Just because I’m single doesn’t mean I’m lonely
One time, a few years ago (seven to be exact) my mom called to talk to me, as moms like to do. I was spending my junior year of college living away from home, and with the distance and the time difference my mom called to check up on me a lot. This was another one of those checkups. As we talked, the conversation quickly turned to the fact that I was living alone in a new city, by myself and completely by myself; I wasn’t in a relationship at the time. My mom started to really harp on this subject, and after a few moments of dancing around the subject directly, she started crying.
“I just don’t like to think of you all alone!” She wailed on the other end of the phone, 3,000 miles away.
At the time, I had no idea how to respond to that. Seven years later, I still have no idea how to respond to that question. Am I alone? Yes. I’m alone in the sense that I am not currently in a relationship, so no need to add a +1 to any of my RSVPS. But am I ~alone~? Am I completely alone in the world, without anyone beside me, looking out for me, caring about me? No. I’m not alone. So stop thinking I am. (I love you, mom!!)
It’s not just my mom who has commented that I’m “all alone” before. Friends, colleagues, and peers have all made similar remarks, whether intentionally or indirectly. It never bothers ME, but for some reason, others take it as if it DOES bother me, which is odd. Like someone will state, “You’re not in a relationship?” and I’ll be like “HELL NO,” and they’ll be like “Oh, I’m so sorry [gives me a sad look and creeping puppy-dog eyes like this is a tragedy].” This is usually followed by the invitation to go out with them sometime in the future, as if this kind gesture is saving me from years of solitude. It’s a nice thing to do, but honestly, it’s always weird. It’s like when others see that I’m alone, they assume I must be lonely, and that another person’s presence is my only savior. Where does that perception come from? That I need to be saved from my aloneness? Where does that perception come from?
In truth, I love being alone. I love being able to do my own thing on my own terms, and I embrace this freedom to the fullest. But, being alone does not translate to loneliness. I 100% love returning home to my empty apartment, all by myself, and yelling “THIS IS ALL MINE!!!” In this situation, I am physically alone, and I embrace the shit out of it.
Being physically alone and being lonely are two different things, and I’m not lonely. I wish more people understood that. If I want a friend to come over and hang out, they do. If I want to go out and see friends, I do. But then if I want to spend the night in, alone, I do that, too.
And okay, every now and then I do feel a little bit lonely. But then again, everyone does at some point in their life, even those in committed relationships. For some reason when I’m struck with the coming feeling of loneliness, I think of that one Penny Lane quote from Almost Famous. You know the one: “…and if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends.” Wherever your friends — both the real ones and the inanimate — are is not a state of loneliness (And my proverbial record store is Netflix).
Yet, I still feel like people just assume I’m lonely. My mom did that one time seven years ago, and sometimes I still know she thinks that now. But I’m not. I have loads of friends, and an amazing group of ladies that I get to work with every single day — and I hope you have the same. Unless you’re locked away in a tall tower without any way to get outside, you’re not alone, and I bet you’re far from lonely.