Learning the Difference Between Solitude and Loneliness
Your alone time is only enriching if you make an effort to practice self-introspection.
There’s a beautiful line in Utada Hikaru’s song “Michi,” which typically translates to “road.” The line goes, “It’s a lonely road / but I’m not alone.” In the context of the rest of the song, it makes a little more sense — it’s basically about how we’re all alone sometimes, even if we do have incredible people in our lives, and there are some things we need to do alone.
That message really resonated with me because I have a strange relationship with solitude. I spent so many years in almost complete isolation when I was a kid getting homeschooled. Once I left, I surrounded myself with people almost nonstop — going to the opposite extreme and never giving myself alone time.
Loneliness is a powerful sensation that gets in the way of comfortable alone time.
Loneliness sometimes feels paradoxical—I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in crowded parties or events and felt utterly alone because I wasn’t connecting with anyone. In the same vein, when I was growing up, all of my relationships with family members were superficial and closed off—and a lack of authenticity in relationships is believed to be one of the contributors to loneliness.
Though loneliness can be difficult to keep in check, we all need alone time. It’s a time to process, recenter, and if you do happen to be an introvert, recover. This is where the idea of peaceful solitude comes in. Psychologists assert that very often, alone time is the rare opportunity to explore your passions without the pressure or judgment of others watching. There are a lot of benefits to taking alone time to practice different forms of self-introspection, but creativity is a big one—it’s something we often don’t prioritize enough in our daily lives when bigger responsibilities are always lurking.