All by yourself. No one around. Nothing you must do. Does that sound like heaven or hell? There is a big difference between being alone and being lonely. Being alone can be a very creative, healing, energizing experience. Or, not! And, it is very possible to feel lonely within a large crowd or within a relationship. It really comes down to a choice.
According to a 2013 Wall Street Journal article by Elizabeth Bernstein, the rate of loneliness in the U.S. has doubled over the past thirty years. Currently about 40% of Americans report being lonely; in the 1980s it was 20%. A possible reason is more people are living alone (27% in 2012 versus 17% in 1970).
If you are feeling lonely, either when you are alone or when you are with others, try to figure out what’s missing from your life. Simply making a lot of plans and having a lot of people around doesn’t necessarily alleviate loneliness. The more clearly you can see what’s lacking in your life, the better able you will be to see possible solutions.
Often what’s missing is simply a close connection with like minded souls. Others you genuinely enjoying being with, rather than people in your life filling up space. Or, checking in and making sure you are doing what you really want to do, rather than being a player in someone else’s life. If you are feeling lonely, it might be time to become the star of your own play. Go for it! Spread your wings!