With Valentine’s Day coming up, the pressure is on even more to have a partner, someone to make gooey eyes at and eat an overly expensive meal with. When somebody asks what your plans are for Valentine’s, it’s with the expectation that you will tell them you’re with a date, even if only for a day.

If you tell them you’re spending the evening on other pursuits (I like Netflix, or writing this blog), their automatic assumption is along the lines of ‘Oh, poor thing, so lonely, all by themselves.’

Which begs the question:

Solitude and loneliness?

Are they the same?

I say NO!

So often, people seem to mix the two up, so here’s a brief description:

Solitude says, ‘I’m spending time alone by choice. I’m here because I want to be,’ and there are numerous psychological articles talking about the benefits of solitude.

Loneliness, on the other hand, is an involuntary separation from society and considered harmful to the person.

Yet these two things are frequently switched, which is a problem.

Me, I’m an introvert. It’s almost* impossible for me to be lonely.

For those of you who fall into the extrovert category, or as someone who desperately wants to be part of a pair, I’m sorry. I’ve got no tips on how to find your significant other.

I’m here to cheer you through this time of solitude.

If you’re lonely, please, reach out, talk to someone near you. Talk to me! You can leave a comment below, or write a message on my Facebook page, the link is to the right of the screen.

There are a few things to think about if you’re on your own this Valentine’s Day, to reassure yourself that this time of solitude isn’t wasted, such as:

Know Thyself

For most of us, this comes as more of a question. The person seeking solitude in an effort to figure out what makes them tick follows it as a command:

Know thyself.

Know who you are. Your likes and dislikes. Your strengths and weaknesses. The things you want to improve, and the things you need to improve.

I hope, one day, to not even have it in my head as something that needs contemplating. I want to be like Granny Weatherwax or Minerva McGonagall, who simply are. A force of nature, that is sure of herself to the marrow of her bones.

Terry Pratchett, lost, solitude

I want to be like Granny. Sort of.

Clear Your Mind

Solitude gives you the opportunity to get away from the immediacy of your problems. You have a chance to rest your mind and look at problems objectively.

While I was on the Camino, I randomly spoke to a lady (I randomly spoke to a lot of people), and asked her why she was on the Camino. She told me she was getting a divorce.

“Um, I don’t know whether to offer congratulations or give my condolences?”

She said congratulations, definitely. But she was a bit disappointed. She thought walking the Camino would make her problems go away.

“Erm. Yeah. I figured that the Camino doesn’t make them go away, it, uh, just gives you the strength to deal with them.”

That made her pause, and she said she’d have to think about it. Goodness knows, we were still a week away from Santiago de Compostela, she’d have plenty of time.

Solitude, Camino de Santiago

Its just you and the animals, on the Camino

Restore Yourself

Solitude gives you the chance to rest and recharge. Unplugging from today’s hectic world, both physically and online, gives your mind the opportunity to rest. 

Allow yourself to unwind, by taking some time just for you. Could be a few minutes a day, or an hour a week (moms, I know this is nearly impossible). Whatever you can manage, your mind and stress levels will thank you for it.

The Atlantic and Psychology Today have some great articles about solitude and its benefits.

Solitude is good for you

Lucky little guy! #Solitude

PS – This Valentine’s Day I’m donating blood. At least its somewhere I’ll be popular!

PPS – For some benefits to spending time COMPLETELY alone, click here.

 

*I said ‘almost’ impossible. Every once in a while, I get a yawning pit opening in my chest. The yearning for more than the single life. A friend, a partner. A lover. And then I shut it down, because if I let it go, let it rule, I’m afraid that I’ll compromise myself, my beliefs or my values to attain something that’s fleeting at best. Better that I continue to find myself, be the best ME that I can, and be ready when that person does arrive.

Better to live my life, than sit down and wonder why it’s not magically happening

 

Hey, sharing is caring! If you found anything in here interesting, maybe someone you know will, too!


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