I just wanted to remind those of us who are dealing with the mandated isolation and social distancing guidelines right now, that BEING ALONE DOES NOT EQUAL BEING LONELY.
For a born extrovert like myself, I get energy and recharge my batteries from being with other people. The very act of being social revs get my proverbial juices flowing and revs me up with adrenaline and inspiration. For dyed-in-the-wool introverts like my husband, you all find refreshment and renewal in being away from people, and if you don’t get enough solitude it can be as bad for your health as sleep deprivation.
Neither one of these is wrong, it’s just a different way of being, biologically. And I believe that while we have been designed a certain way from birth, it is possible to change one’s extrovert/introvert leopard’s spots with practice and time. My husband has learned over the years how to be extroverted and social when necessary, and I have found that I am able to happily embrace my solitude and even appreciate it as something good when I feel bombarded by outside stimuli.
Now that we are all isolating, many of us who do not have family members, friends or spouses with whom to share our space find ourselves craving human interaction and attention. We can’t even see the friendly smiles and eye contact with other people when we’re out on socially distanced walks or at the grocery store because everyone is wearing masks. This is definitely a bizarre time to be alive because even places where we’re used to seeing other people are either emptier, or have hurried and harried people in them, rushing as quickly as they can to get themselves out.
So what can we do to combat the loneliness and despair from such limited human contact? We can make it happen for ourselves whenever and however we can. We can reconnect with people with whom we have regrettably lost touch through phone calls, video chats, and online meetings. We can make the effort to write handwritten letters to old friends and we can even go old school and make new “Pen Pal” friends. I can remember running excitedly to my mailbox in my childhood to see if there was a letter there from my Pen Pal from across the country. There is nothing like having something fun and uplifting like that to look forward to, and to know that someone else is thinking of us and connecting with us from somewhere far away.
In our world right now we have neighbors who have been dropping off flowers from their garden on everyone’s porches once a week. It’s a tiny thing, but believe me, it makes a big difference in the humdrum of life right now. We ourselves have been making regular porch deliveries of gifts and baked goods to people whom we know are isolated and cut off from their families and friends. Don’t underestimate the power of reaching out to someone else when they are lonely because that will bring you right out of your loneliness like a rainbow after a rainstorm.
Being alone can be lonely, no question about it. And so many studies have shown how loneliness can be crippling and devastating to our minds and bodies. Human beings are social creatures by nature, and having to be cut off from our biological requirement of socialization can have debilitating effects. So make the choice to not allow yourself to drown in the darkness of loneliness. Kick your way up to the surface, take a deep breath of fresh air and keep swimming your way toward others on the friendly shore.
It may be uncomfortable at first to reach out to others but remember that we are all in the same boat here, we’re all humans trying to make the best lives we can in the short time we’re here on Earth. We’re honestly all in this together and no one needs to be lonely even while being alone. Make the choice, take the step, and reach out to connect with others in any way you can.
Hard to see the light now.
Just don't let it go
Things will come out right now.
We can make it so.
Someone is on your side
No one is alone.
-Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim