August 3, 2010


Last night one of my Facebook friends posted this video from a Canadian woman named Tanya Davis, called "How to be Alone".  It's one of the neatest narratives on the subject of being alone I have ever read (or seen).

A sample line from the video is "You'll find it's fine to be alone once you're embracing it."

Amen to that.

I love being alone - I always have.  As a kid I did play with the other kids, of course, and I always had my younger sister Jen to keep me company.  But I loved sneaking away and hiding in small places where I could read or collect stamps or just be by myself, which was hard in our little apartment.

For a few summers starting when I was ten, my family and I would go up to a place called Moon Beach (insert joke here).  It was a family camp, and I LOVED it.  There were plenty of opportunities to wander off by myself and catch frogs or walk in the woods.  After one of these solitary excursions, my dad took me aside and asked me if I was okay.  I said, "of course!".  He then told me that perhaps I should join the group of kids, rather than doing my own thing, because he didn't want me to be like him.  I still get choked up when I think of this, because I didn't see anything wrong with being like my dad; he seemed to do just fine in his own company.

As time progressed, I became quite the social butterfly, probably due to my sister Jen being so good at it herself.  We're only 13 months apart so many times, especially in college, we'd hang out together.  Her attitude is infectious and I grew more and more at ease with being around people.  In my junior year of college I moved out (or rather, my parents moved to Madison so I was forced to be on my own), and while I was very upset at first because my safety net was gone, after about three weeks I realized I could do whatever I wanted with virtually no supervision and I found myself surrounded by people constantly.  I had four roommates that first year and by the time we moved to a big house on the east side of Green Bay, I had six roommates.  It was all friends, all the time and I had lost my desire to be alone.

I went straight from roommates to living with my first husband, Dan.  We had a blast together and after a year of cohabitating we got hitched.  We also worked at the same TV station, so we had the same friends and went out EVERY night.  It was a wonderful, friend-filled time.

After twelve years together I found myself alone (it was my decision) for the first time in many, many years.  Dan and I separated in May of 2003 and I got an apartment.  It was the first time in my life that I'd ever lived by myself - and I LOVED it.  Oh sure, I'd miss Dan - you can't share your life with someone and not miss them unless they were cruel to you, which was certainly not my case.  But I finally mustered the courage to be alone.

That year I did things that I thought would be impossible just the year before - I went to the movies by myself.  I went to Toronto myself for a long weekend and did everything that I wanted to do, which also meant eating by myself.  It caused me some anxiety at first but just like the aformentioned video says, you get used to the joy of it.

Okay, I'm rereading this post and I realize that I told a lot of backstory to get to my original question - why is there such a stigma to being alone?  I'll admit it - I have a hard time seeing people by themselves too.  When I was a kid, I'd cry if I saw people eating by themselves in restaurants or sitting on a park bench alone.  It broke my heart to think that there were people out there who may be lonely.  To my mind, loneliness is one of the worst things someone can feel.

Ah, but there is SUCH a difference between being alone and being lonely!  There have been very few times in my life when I felt actual loneliness (which is probably why it made me so sad to see others possibly feeling this way).  But what if the difference between the two is just an attitude adjustment?  I know that's a pretty simple statement, and there are many, many factors to consider - but if you haven't yet, watch the video above - it's okay to be alone!  All of us are alone sometimes, but ALL of us have someone (or a lot of people) that care for us, too.  So take heart - being alone doesn't mean we're "all alone"!  It just means that we can like ourselves, and maybe even find that we're fun to be around, even when it's just me, myself and I.


  1. I will watch the video (just not at work!), but have to say, I like being alone, and enjoy my own company, as well! There were 6 of us in my family. I was the youngest of the 4 kids (my siblings are 7, 9, and 11 years older than me), so I grew up "sort-of" like an only child after they were old enough to head to college, school, and out on their own. Before that, I remember hiding in my closet sometimes to have a space to myself, when I had to share a bedroom with them! Living alone, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, without having to answer to anyone else. (Not being lonely, but being alone- I agree, there's a big difference!)

    My BF (who grew up an only child) is the same way, too-- even after living together for five years, we both still need our own space and time alone on occasion. (Don't get me wrong, it's wonderful to share our lives together, but sometimes too much togetherness causes us to get on each other's nerves.)

  2. Thanks for writing, Jennifer! I can totally see where you enjoyed being alone - with sibs so much older than you, I'll bet there was a lot of commotion in the house! :D

    It took me a long time to realize that alone time doesn't equal "the magic is gone". The older I get, the more I relish my alone time - which I get plenty of now that I'm home during the day! :D