Alone is not lonely

There is a world of difference between being alone and being lonely. Far too many people treat them synonymously, which isn’t helpful.

Being alone simply indicates that you’re not interacting with others. It doesn’t necessarily mean there is no-one else around. You can be alone in a cafe, sitting by yourself, even if the cafe is full of people.

The trouble with ‘alone’ is that too many people taint it with a sense of failure. “I went to town alone” is, for some, tantamount to admitting you’re a Nancy No-Mates. It doesn’t mean you have no friends, it just says they weren’t with you at the time. No shame in that.

Lonely is of course a whole different beast. Loneliness has less to do with an absence of people than it does with an absence of connection to people. It’s as possible to be surrounded by people and be lonely as it is to be entirely alone and feel perfectly content and connected to absent friends and family.

Loneliness and aloneness are not the same thing at all. Loneliness is rarely if ever a desirable condition. Aloneness, on the other hand, can be sought out and much enjoyed.