By Lindy Earl

Loneliness. The word comes up all the time throughout our lives. In childhood it was intended as a punishment: “Go to your room!” It was meant to isolate us and give us time to think about what we had done. For me it was a reprieve. Being sent to my room where I could read or play with my dolls was a good thing. I realize, however, that it wasn’t this way for everyone.

I have been lonely maybe ten minutes in my life. Having five siblings may be the reason why I crave alone time. I was born into a large family and two younger brothers led us to a family of eight.  On to College, where I loved dorm life but was rarely alone.  Post-College I spent a small fortune in DC to live alone. My own apartment was pure bliss. In fact, when I first got engaged, it hit me that I would no longer have my own room.  A kind friend assured me that I would find my own space within my home, and she was right.

Yes, as a single-again person, I look for and look forward to having someone in my life. In the meantime, I enjoy my alone time.

Yes, there are weekends when I see nobody for days and my car does not move. But that time was well spent on projects and hobbies and chores and enjoying my alone time. Some things just can’t be done as well with others around.

I think the difference between alone and lonely is choice.  If I want to be alone on a Friday night, or maybe I find myself alone on a Friday night, then I can choose to enjoy the time by filling it with things that I want to do.

If I want to watch a football game with someone, anyone, and can’t find a friend who is available, then I might feel lonely. In most cases, though, I just sit myself down and watch the game by myself.  It’s still football!

So loneliness might be wanting to be with someone, specific or not. Married people can be lonely for their out-of-town spouse. Mamas are often lonely for their away-from- home children. Some people are lonely even when they are with other people. That’s very sad and the worst kind of loneliness.

So when I hear single people say that they are lonely… I wonder for whom or for what.

Are they wishing to be with a specific person, such as a crush? Crushing on a person can be distracting and fun if you do not take it too seriously. It’s just a crush and should be a pleasant diversion.

I think some people are lonely for a feeling. Feelings of inclusion and fitting in. They believe that being with someone will make them feel good. Sometimes they (mistakenly) believe that others are out having a blast, on dates or at gatherings, while they sit at home alone. 

First, my research has shown this to be inaccurate. A lot of us are home alone on weekends. So get the idea that you are the only one not having a good time with others out of your mind.

Next,  if you don’t like your situation, then change it. You have two obvious choices: choose to enjoy being alone or stop being alone.

Start enjoying your alone time by treating yourself well. Make yourself a nice dinner. Set the table. Put out flowers. It takes time to do so and you are worth it. You can treat yourself to a movie of your choice, whether it’s at a theatre, a Redbox, or Netflix. Start making loneliness into alone time, then YOU time. It’s all about you for the entire evening. How nice!

Make plans with yourself to read a book or work on a project. Put it on your calendar and know that you have a date with yourself doing what you want to do.

You can get adventurous and make yourself go beyond your comfort zone. For some people that would be dinner or a movie out. For some it would be a walk in a public place. Do what works for you!

If it’s companionship that you are missing then make some friends. Same gender friends count. Meet for coffee or a hike or lunch or a game or dinner or a movie. You can start contacting people today until you find someone with similar interests and a similar schedule. There are a lot of people out there who like you just fine, but they are simply too far away or run on a different time clock.  It’s not an indictment of you that they aren’t available.  Just move on to the next person on your list.

Do not take others’ busyness as rejection. Our kids and families come first. Just because they are busy this weekend doesn’t mean that they will never be available again.  Keep trying.

Don’t wait for others to ask you. Use the phone that is probably within touching distance at this moment. Also, don’t leave it nebulous.  Don’t just say, “We should meet for lunch sometime.” Put a date and time on the calendar right now, then look forward to the meeting.

Loneliness will go away as you fill your life with people and projects that you enjoy. You are in control of your calendar, so fill it up to your heart’s content.  If you remain lonely, then try harder. Keep calling and asking. Other lonely people will appreciate being asked.

            I would love to hear from you. Please comment and share your thoughts. If you like this article please share with your network!

Lindy is a Consultant, Speaker, and Writer, currently living in Atlanta, GA.  She is The Business Coach focusing on Relationships through Communication, Leadership, and Corporate Culture. You will be more successful with Lindy on your team. Please contact her at LMEarl@EarlMarketing.com.