Defining the difference between being lonely and being alone

Edwin J. Viera, Reporter

One thing that I will always remember my dad teaching me is the difference between the words alone and lonely. Being alone is when you’re by yourself, but you have people in your life. Loneliness is when you’re alone or have people in your life, but you don’t “have” anyone in your life.

But when you’re single, does the line even get drawn? I’m single and I’m alone, but trust me, I’ve been single while my mind created the illusion of loneliness. Does this happen to anyone else?

Once when I wanted to be alone back in New York City I went to Battery Park City and lost myself in the views of the New Jersey skyline, as well as my writing. Does everyone need a getaway, or simply put a distraction to keep their mind off the world? I couldn’t help but wonder.

When it comes to being single; does the line between being alone and feeling lonely ever get blurred?

The ancient Greeks weaved the tale of a man named Narcissus, and taught everyone to focus on others, but was this tale supposed be taken two ways? Think about it. Narcissus was a man so lost in himself that he never knew what loneliness was!

It’s unfortunate that he drowned in himself, but at least we got the message before he did. Seriously, he was actually comfortable being alone. He was able to have something that distracted him from the real world or what was going on around him.

But is that what we need? Would that be the thing that keeps loneliness out of the picture? In order to further understand the difference between alone and lonely, I got a second opinion.

A friend of mine named Sophie said, “It depends on where you are. The line can get blurred, but once I got friends it would stop. Sometimes I would be around my friends and still feel lonely. Overall, yes, the line gets blurred.”

I believe that she has the right idea because as much as I am alone, I do get lonely, but only when I really feel alone. To get another take on this, I asked my best friend and roommate, Dalton.

“Being alone is something you feel,” he said, “Feeling lonely is not a choice, you just feel it. Yes. After a break up, you feel lonely, then you start leaving people’s lives to be alone.”

If that’s true, then for me that means ten years of loneliness. Then I remembered something my Dad said, and he gave me the bigger picture of dating.

“Ed, you’ll find a girlfriend; just be patient,” he said.

I heard that and realized that my entire life doesn’t revolve around someone else making me happy. I can take care of myself.

In the last scene of the show “Sex and the City” is Carrie Bradshaw saying, “The most exciting, challenging relationship you can have is the one you have with yourself.”

If this is true, shouldn’t we all be satisfied with ourselves? My roommate, Kevin, gave me an answer that led me to a factor that creates the feeling of loneliness.

“I’ve been alone for years,” he said. “I don’t feel lonely. I felt lonely when this girl I knew as a great friend just stopped talking to me… for no reason.”

It was an intriguing thought that a lack of communication can cause loneliness. I knew that from experience. This past winter was hard because many of my friends were just doing their own thing, and I would get so angry because no one would ever listen to what I had to say.

On Snapple bottles they have many interesting facts, and I was looking through them when I came across one that seemed strange. It was fact number 986, and it said “In Switzerland it is illegal to own only one guinea pig because guinea pigs are prone to loneliness”.

Maybe the same applies to humans? This brought me to the conclusion that not having someone to talk to is what creates loneliness. You begin to manifest in all the thoughts you have, whether they are good or bad.

Everyone I talked to spoke about feeling lonely when they had no friend or romantic partner to talk to. If that’s all it takes, then I can see the clear need to have a great support system; in other words, a great group of friends. For me that means hanging out in the Student Union with the Pit Crew.

It’s a break from the daily trials that I face as a young man, but I will say this. As long as I have the Pit Crew, then I won’t be lonely or alone. Just remember if anyone looks at you different for being single, just hold your head up high, and say “I Am Single, Hear Me Roar!”

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