Are You Alone, or Are You Alone?

The feeling of being alone vs. wanting to be alone


Bryleigh Conley

The word “alone” could be described many different ways depending on who is describing it.

Bryleigh Conley, Reporter

Think of yourself in a situation where you’re surrounded by a big crowd of people. While you’re surrounded by that crowd you find yourself having a certain sense of loneliness. No matter how hard you try, you feel like you’re the only one – the only one who is feeling that certain type of way. Or maybe you’re surrounded by that crowd but find yourself wishing to be alone, wishing that everyone would just vanish and leave you with that peace and quiet until you’re ready for all that noise again.

Maybe you’re at lunch, after having a stressful morning of classes, in a noisy hallway. You put some headphones in, turn on some music to help block the noise. Full volume. For in that instant you try to detach yourself from everything around to regain that social battery that was drained.

Maybe you’re at a party, a family event. No one is your age. You try to hang out with the adults, but the “adult talk” can get old, hard to understand. So you try the younger kids, but they are too noisy, get on your nerves. At that moment you start to feel alone, no other family or friends your age. It’s just you and yourself and that feeling starts to kick in.

Maybe you’re a therapist friend. Everyone comes to you for their problems, and you help. They seem self-centered. Every once in a while you need that help but they end up only talking about themselves. At that moment you start to get that familiar feeling again. But then comes along that one friend or family, the one who always listens. You feel better and realize that the loneliness was only temporary.

“You can be alone without feeling lonely. You can also feel lonely even when you’re around other people.” says Healthline.

The reason being “alone” could be taken in many different ways, or rather, hard to explain depending on the person you talk to and how they perceive the word. It could be used to talk about the feeling of being alone, or used to describe the actual setting of wanting to be left alone. Sometimes the world can become too much, too loud.

Quarantine during COVID-19 may be an old and repetitive topic by now, but these feelings of loneliness peaked during that recent point in time. After being forced into lock-down and having most of your time surrounded by people and noise being taken away, it’s only natural for one to feel alone.

You can be alone without feeling lonely. You can also feel lonely even when you’re around other people.

— Healthline

These feelings of being alone and loneliness can be caused by all different types of ways, including straying away from your natural everyday surroundings, not having things in common with the people around you, and most commonly being separated from family and friends, or even just breaking away from your normal everyday routine. As described by Healthline, “Most people need close relationships in order to thrive.”

If you are ever in a situation where you are feeling alone, here are some ways to help: 

Listening to music or watching TV, filling the area that surrounds you will help it feel less quiet and lonesome. Call a friend or family member to talk to, keep you company. Or maybe try doing a few things to help take your mind off of it – cleaning, staying off of social platforms, playing games, or even going on a hike, anything that makes you feel happy. However, don’t push these feelings off too much to where at one point they may become too much to handle.

Alongside feeling alone is the setting of being alone, the wishing of wanting to be separated from everyone. Most people feel this way after school or work, maybe your social battery is drained and needs replenishing. 

For some people, being around people 24/7 makes them happy, while others believe spending time by themselves is better, which is okay. Being around people all the time can be tiring. Nothing is wrong with wanting alone time, in fact, being alone can help deal and or cope with stress and anxiety. It can help give you a more clear thinking process and allow you to understand yourself better, and improve your concentration.

There are lots of things that you can do as well, wanting to be alone doesn’t mean you have to sit inside, locked in your room. It could be a variety of things. Going outdoors or on a walk can help relieve stress and relax the mind, sometimes all you need is a simple walk alone through the park. You could sit down and read a book in a comfy spot, or take a drive listening to music, etc. Like said, just because you want to be alone doesn’t always mean it’s a bad thing, it’s okay.

“We tend to equate a desire for solitude with people who are lonely, sad, or have antisocial tendencies. But seeking solitude can actually be quite healthy. In fact, there are many physical and psychological benefits of spending time alone,” says psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D.

If you do need time alone, don’t be afraid to tell people no. If you are always surrounded by friends and family, it can be hard to find that alone time that you’ve been searching for. Though, make sure you don’t push yourself away and lose those connections, it can hurt those around you and possibly yourself in the future.

It’s all connected. That wanting can also turn into that familiar feeling.

If you need more help with feeling lonely, anxious or sad, please try talking with someone. There are many ways to stay in touch, whether that be through a therapist, a hotline, or just family and friends. Someone you can trust.