*This is the sixth in my mini-series on stories of my past that define me. I’ll write these periodically, as the ideas flow. Enjoy.*
I wrote this post for Emma over at Divorced Before 30 a few months ago…but for some reason, feel compelled to repost it here, as a story that has defined me. Because I don’t think there is a day that goes by where I don’t embrace being alone, to some extent, and look back at where embracing this came from. As I near closer and closer to three years since my divorce began, I can’t help but continue reflecting on how it has shaped me and how I still learn from that time, every single day.
(and to be honest, this distinction between being alone and being lonely doesn’t *just* apply to those that are divorced, I think it’s one of those universal truths that we all need to embrace…embrace being alone. Celebrate it. Truly appreciate it.)
Being Alone vs. Lonely
One of the biggest things I learned as I went through my separation and divorce was the difference between being alone and being lonely.
I found that as much as I feared being lonely, I was more afraid of being alone, and for how long I might theoretically be alone before finding love again. I remember how often my mind would just want to skip and jump ahead to the part where I was no longer alone and no longer hurting. To the part about being in love and looking back on the ‘bad’ as a distant memory.
It is the ‘fast forwarding’ in my brain to ‘the good parts’ that I think was more detrimental than actually just accepting my situation for what it was. 29. Divorcing. Short selling my home. Starting over…alone.…and, yes, from scratch, in just about every way possible, but the difference being seeing that as a positive. A mindset shift. Seeing my situation as an opportunity to shape my destiny, and who I wanted to be after all is said and done.
And truth is, had I not experienced being alone, I would never have learned how to be comfortable with being alone, not to mention actually embrace it. And embrace it I soon learned to do!
Settling into my very first apartment, living alone, also for the first time in my life…I remember looking around and realizing, wow, everything in this apartment? Is MINE. And ONLY mine. There is a huge sense of pride in that feeling, and to this day, I look back on that time in my life and am so proud of myself, for learning to live by myself, sleep alone (a scary thing to me previously!) and do things by myself. But that soon became empowering, and fun, and a way to step out of my comfort zone and push myself. Because every time I did that, gotuncomfortable, I learned. I stretched. I grew.
And being alone, doing things alone and experiencing that? I never once felt lonely. Because I had learned to embrace being alone and saw it differently than being lonely. To me, lonliness can be more easily rectified than being alone. And if you are afraid to be alone, I firmly believe you somehow are more closed (than you think!) to those around you, potential mates and friends, even.
You gotta be comfortable with being alone in order to truly open yourself up to what you may want most…love and companionship. Once I truly embraced and loved being alone? I met M. And the rest, as they say, is history.
So, I challenge you…separate being ‘alone’ and being ‘lonely.’ Get comfortable with being alone. You’ll be surprised at what you learn.