Alone vs. LonelyI live alone and work mostly from home, so I am quite comfortable in my own company.  This comfort extends beyond the walls of home and it is not unusual for me to catch a movie, have brunch, go to a bar or even take a vacation by myself.  For the most part, it’s a pretty liberating experience to do things alone. I have more conversations with strangers (which I love) and I’m able to focus more on whatever I’d like to focus on as opposed to keeping up with a conversation.  There are times when it’s good to kiki with girlfriends over bottomless mimosas and there are times when I prefer to sip and nibble as I plot my next move in my faithful Moleskine.

One interesting thing that usually only happens at restaurants or on vacation is that I’ll get sympathetic looks from women. To a lot of people, being alone (especially for a woman) equals being lonely. Surely a lady would not choose to eat a meal alone or lay on a Caribbean beach by herself. The horror! I’ve even had couples approach me and offer to let me sit with them at their table.  I always appreciate the sympathy, even though I’m not in need of it at those times.

Alone does not equal lonely. Also, you can be in someone’s presence and feel quite lonely. (Listen to Jill Scott’s “Whenever You’re Around” for a moving explanation of how that situation occurs.) But with all that said, loneliness is a real thing that all of us feel at some time or another for various reasons.

As a lover of my own company and a believer in truly living in the moment, loneliness does not visit often, but when it does, it stings.  I think I am fortunate in the sense that these occasional waves of loneliness are the exception and not the rule. I know people, particularly New York transplants, who feel overwhelmed and unmoored most of the time. But I know I have a great support system of family (by blood and by choice) and as far as a romantic partner…well, I’ll let Warsan Shire speak on that for me: “My alone feels so good. I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.” Ashé.

Follow Demetria Irwin on Twitter at @Love_Is_Dope and connect with her on Facebook.

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