According to Cambridge dictionary, loneliness is defined as the “state of being lonely” and being lonely is the state of being “unhappy because you are not with other people.” In other words, being alone means that you’re dissatisfied with yourself, miserable with the act of spending time with you.
The word “alone” has such negative connotations as if simply being alone is unacceptable, a sort of embarrassment or disgrace to the world, to others, to the life fate mapped out for you. And there is so much fear in being alone, of particularly being lonely. There’s a fear of drowning in a pit of loneliness, of never escaping the dark abyss while desperately crawling and scratching hollow walls just to be seen, just to be loved, just to be. Sure, that might sound depressing and a little dramatic at best, but ultimately, loneliness leads to depression and anxiety, causes extreme distress and sadness to the point of staring at blank walls and ceilings, lying in bed from sunrise to sunset, watching the numbers on the clock flip from noon to midnight.
The issue I have with this definition is that it’s not always true. You don’t necessarily have to be completely alone to feel lonely, to be lonely. We could be surrounded with all our loved ones in one room and still feel lonely. The room could be filled with a crowd of carefree, optimistic people, making us laugh with our bellies and smile with just our eyes—we could be taking shots of tequila and smoking the best weed in the city—and still feel lonely. And for those of us who know, we could be in bed with our lovers during a cold, winter night and still, feel very lonely.
There’s another sadness to that, isn’t there? There’s a strange, added emotion to the feeling of loneliness when you’re standing in a room full of people and still feel as if you’re the only human being primarily existing. You’re there, but you’re not actually there. You’re here, but you’re not actually here. No one really notices this sensation. Just you.
One of the things I hear the most, besides the fact that many express their fears of not wanting to be alone, is that “they like being alone.” Now, I’m not talking about those who genuinely and wholeheartedly love to be alone, who worked on their confidence and are beautifully independent, ridding the negative standards of being who they desire to be. I’m talking about those who lie to themselves, who say they like being alone when we certainly know they are the loneliest people in the world. They’re used to being lonely and because that’s all they ever known to be, they stress this statement consistently as if attempting to prove to themselves they are—by proving that to someone else.
Why is that? Why all the secrecy, the lies, the ego? Do they feel prideful for repeatedly expressing that to others? Does it boost up their confidence, rid the insecurities they can’t face themselves?
One of my favorite lyrics is from Sabrina Claudio’s “Confidently Lost.”
“I’m alone, but I’m not lonely,” she sings. “Comfortably indulging/And trying to get to know me.”
For the first time in…well the first time in a long while, I’m alone but I’m not lonely.
I’m not lonely because I don’t got a man. I’m not lonely because I spend my time reading poetry books. I’m not lonely because I go to the movies by myself. I’m not lonely because I drive an hour into the city to get my favorite pizza. I’m just alone…confidently alone. I’m getting to know me, trying to do me, be me, love me. There’s no shame in that.
But I do have to admit what’s true.
I still feel lonely in a crowd full of people.
Even with those I love.