Being Alone vs. Being Lonely

I never know if I should define myself as an introvert or an extrovert. I love talking to people and getting to know them and I’m definitely not quiet. But I’m also a pretty private person and I thrive on being alone. Like most other things, there is no black or white answer, just (50) shades of grey. (Bad joke.)

I genuinely like being alone. I love taking personal time to listen to music, write, and organize my things. It recharges me. The organization of my life reflects the organization of my thoughts. When my physical surroundings are orderly, I’m calm and collected with a mind that’s at peace.

I never feel lonely when I’m alone.

Loneliness only hits when I’m in a crowd or even a small group. Somehow, I can never find my place. I never feel fully comfortable in that setting, even if I’m the one telling a joke or a story with everyone laughing along. The interactions aren’t a problem. It’s the separating of groups and pairs within a larger crowd that always throws me off.

My classes are fully of bright and interesting people that I love chatting with. But each of those people have a group they belong to while I just sort of float in the middle. There is no lonelier feeling than being surrounded by 70 people who all have something to say to their best friends, while you sit and stare at the empty whiteboard.

Feeling lonely absolutely sucks.

The flaw with being a private person is the difficulty in bonding with someone. I’m always worried to get too close and so I keep everyone at arm’s length. I’ve perfected the art of superficial friendships discussing school and assignments and weekend plans. I’ve honed my skills at keeping from developing any sort of expectations of people.

I used to have expectations and they were consistently let down. I thought I had the perfect grasp on a person’s character and time after time I was shown how wrong I was. Constant disappointment was exhausting so I decided to not bother at all.

But every now and then someone sneaks through those defences and filters. Initially it’s all good. Things are great for a while, but it doesn’t last. Soon enough I’m alone and lonely and god does it suck.

I have some great people in my life that I feel incredibly blessed to have found. Loneliness is the last thought on my mind when I’m with them and for that I’m grateful. It’s the temporary people I need to get better at letting go.

So to everyone who’s let me down or used me… Thank you for the reminder that my filters need maintenance.

– S.

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