It’s not solitude. It’s a state of being.
Loneliness is my embrace of the sadness of being left alone. Too often, students come to me and say, I can’t go abroad because I’m afraid. I’m afraid of missing my family; I’m afraid of getting homesick. You are afraid of being alone. And so, what? So what’s the worst that could happen? When you imagine yourself being homesick, where are you? Who are you with? What does the place look like outside your window? What do you mean when you say, I’m afraid of getting homesick? Draw that picture for me.
We are never alone. There is always someone around, next to us, and these days, within reach by phone-just across that snapchat or Instagram or tumblr or Facebook or text message screen. Whenever you feel that numbing cold sensation in your core–there is an easy, easy relief.
Loneliness is not just being separate. Loneliness is fear of what will bubble up when we have the time and the quiet and the lack of distraction. When we will feel who we are. I’ve spent my whole life feeling who I am. And when I get lonely, I recognize it as a feeling of: where are the others like me who know themselves and who know this feeling? Where are the others who have seen themselves at their worst and somehow forgiven themselves for it. Where are those who know that loneliness is a necessary constant companion? Not something to be overcome, but a state of mind that is necessary to help us appreciate ourselves–help us understand our own worth and that of those around us. To help us understand that worth–like so much of the world– is not inherent or innate but is assigned and decided by us. And loneliness helps us to understand why some people assign us the worth and some people don’t. Ultimately, if we think we are worth it–we as in our self.