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Perspectives: Loneliness ~ It's Not About Being Alone

Updated on February 15, 2013

For an introduction to premise and intent behind the 'Perspectives:' series visit the link provided below, and to enjoy the other perspectives by my fellow contributors visit the links listed at the end of this hub ~

Perspectives: An Introduction

. . . after you read through this hub, go back and 'click' on the highlighted links throughout for a musical expression of the idea offered - this is some of the best music around . . .

'Loneliness': disconnected from other people - or disconnected from yourself?

I'm sure I'm going to lose many of you with this one - but to me, these smiling, excited, busy people reveling in the enthusiasms of Mardi Gras, look like tragically lonely people. I'm sure they all gush-out ribald tales of 'we partied all night!' and 'I can't wait to go back next year!', but, and I almost feel I need to apologize for advancing this idea, but it just all seems so sad to me. Now, if I haven't lost you yet, I may very well accomplish that here; loneliness isn't really about being alone, it's not about being ignored by others - it's about ignoring yourself. When people are disconnected from other people they are alone - when people are disconnected from themselves they are lonely.

This is why some folks can be shut-up in a room they rarely venture out of and feel no sense of loneliness, while others can be in the midst of a vigorous crowd and be ravaged by loneliness. When I was about 13 my family moved from an inner city block, where nearly every other house had a 13 year old boy in, it to a small village where I had no peers, no boys (or girls) close to my own age. When I lived in the city I would leave the house with “I’m going out mom” knowing that when I walked onto our front porch I could look down the street and see Billy and Gary out throwing a football in the street, look up the street and see Mike and Joey scratching around in the dirt with Matchbox cars, and look right across the street and see Georgie standing on his front porch looking at me – when we moved to the small village I would go outside, the wide and quiet street was empty, there were no signs of life . . . very often, I would go to a little strip of woods in the back of my house that bordered a tiny stream, and sit for hours, by myself.

A deliberate ‘self’ vs a default ‘self’?

Now, I imagine that sounds like a very lonely scene, but the reality is that was a very cool little hideaway. I enjoyed and have very fond memories of the flat rock I would sit on as the babbling water of that tiny stream trickled past . . . the quiet nature that surrounded me, I loved it back there. And when I consider the kind of kid I was, the kind of kid I was raised to be, and the dramatically different experiences of living in those two very contradictory circumstances, it suggests to me that loneliness is a thing that comes from what’s going on within you, not what’s going on around you.

My mom raised me to be very self-possessed, to be very deliberate about things, to think independently and to not be swayed from personal principles . . . to be a man was to be in control of yourself. My mother was also very keen to teach me how to use language, and to give due regard to the meaning of words . . . I remember her training me that ‘happy’ has to do with things that are happening while ‘joy’ has to do with what’s going on inside you. I think perhaps because my father abandoned us and because we were poor, my mom was diligent to coach me not to let others define me, that whatever was going on around me (if other kids had more than me or were teasing me, etc) that couldn’t damage or distress the ‘me’ that I was inside myself, unless I permitted it to. But, to have that inner person unaffected by external circumstances, you had to know your ‘self’, you had to have a ‘self’ that you have conscientiously cultivated, you had to have a deliberate ‘self’ of your own making and not a default ‘self’ thrust upon you by your culture and fashion.

Some folks actually fear being alone

Now, here’s how this all works with loneliness; I wasn’t lonely back in those woods alone, because I was with myself . . . and I knew me and actually enjoyed my own company. If you’re a deliberate person and not a default person, if you listen to the music and wear the clothes and eat the food, etc, etc that you determine within yourself that you like, rather than whatever the contemporary culture, the crowd, tells you that you should like, if you believe and vote and stand firm for what you come to after your own diligent consideration regardless of the popular notions of the day, then that’s how you are able to engage with others genuinely and not superficially, that’s how you can build real relationships that are consequential in your life.

If you ‘go with the flow’, if you just allow whatever is currently hip to be your interest, if you merely jump onto every bandwagon of music trend or social cause or political correctness, etc, then you will be a fashionable personality but not an authentic person – not the real ‘you’ that’s inside you yet to be. And loneliness is an infirmity of not really being you . . . it’s not about being alone rather than being around others – it’s about having and knowing the authentic ‘you’ that you can unite to others with, or through. This is why some folks can be all alone in their quiet room and never be lonely, while others can be surrounded by crowds at a festive party and feel terribly lonely. Loneliness is not having or knowing a real ‘you’ that you can share with others . . . or, having and knowing a real ‘you’ that you can enjoy all by yourself.

"It is not good for man to be alone"

Now, please understand that I believe we are not made or meant to "be all alone in our quiet room", we are creatures of relationship, we are made and meant to be in union with others. Consider this; whether you count the Bible as God's own authoritative revelation of eternal truth or one of man's many ancient attempts to understand the world he finds himself in, it is a compelling idea that one of the very first things that God said after He created man was "It is not good for man to be alone", and so God made man male and female, directing them to "be fruitful and multiply". We are made, designed, for relationship, we are not as we should be if we are not bonded together with others in love - but we can't enjoy true bonds of love (family, friends, spouses) if we are not our real selves but are merely an adopted facade, an acted-out persona that is informed by our contemporary culture and is what we imagine would be acceptable to others.

If you know yourself and are comfortable being yourself, then you can be alone without being lonely . . . and you can fully enjoy the genuine relationships that can only come from being real people. Sadly, there are many people who dread being alone, many actually fear being all by themselves - not because they so enjoy the intimacy of genuine relationships, but because they need the busyness, and even outrageous drama, of around other people to distract them from the fearful loneliness of being them . . . because they don't really know themselves.

We're delighted that our guest writer for this month is btrbell ~

Next Month's theme will be ~

'What Don't You Know?'

"Ignorance of certain subjects is a great part of wisdom..." ~ Hugo DeGroot

Of what subjects are you ignorant?

Please contact MickeySr, or any of the 'Perspectives:' team, if you're interested to be our guest writer for March


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    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Nellieanna ~ "This is getting a little spooky, Mickey. I could've written almost everything you've written"

      . . . it's not "spooky", it's easily understood . . . you and I are the two very best people here at HubPages - we both have soaring intellects and deeply passionate hearts, we're both exceptional writers, I'm nearly as handsome as you are gorgeous, etc, etc . . . we're the best there is around here. Now, remove me from that scenario you have the truth . . . only, please don't remove me from that scenario, it's a delight and an honor to be attached to you, even by the impulses of this flickering screen.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Sueswan ~ thanks for the visit, and for the "Voted up and sharing".

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Pamela99 ~ thanks so much for the visit & comment.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      8 years ago from TEXAS

      This is getting a little spooky, Mickey. I could've written almost everything you've written, except with my own specific experiences instead of those of your own which were included to illustrate your points so well! What an excellent piece, from beginning to end. Now I know I must read all your Perspectives hubs!

      Of course, my experiences would be different, as determined by what my life has brought & who I am, including placement in my family & being a gal. But I've just never felt lonely in the sense of 'needing' something or someone else to fill the time or space or to provide my sense of 'being', which may have been fuzzy at times, but it was mine, me: - even if a work in progress!

      I'm slightly taken aback to hear someone say he/she is looking for someone to complete him/herself. Being close to another person is best by both being complete individually & even more so - together.

      As the character, Mr. Emerson, says in "Room With A View", in explaining why he was happy to give his Florence hotel room which had a view to the ladies who were disappointed that theirs had none, "I don't care what I see outside. My vision is within! Here is where the birds sing! Here is where the sky is blue!" - as he places his hand over his bosom. That resonates with me.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi Mickey,

      You hit the nail on the head as far as I am concerned. "When people are disconnected from other people they are alone - when people are disconnected from themselves they are lonely. "

      I remember speaking to a friend of a friend. Once he found out that I was single he asked me how did I cope with being lonely. I told him that I am not lonely.

      I am comfortable in my own skin. Many times it is the person that is jovial and the life of the party that is truly lonely but people will look at a person who is alone and assume that they must be lonely.

      Voted up and sharing

      Have a great week. :)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Your mother sounds like a very wise woman. I enjoy time alone, which doesn't happen often enough at this time in my life. Of course, life changes constantly, and this is just one season. I agree that is important to be "real" and not strive to live up to the expectations of other people. I enjoyed your article on loneliness very much.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Faith Reaper ~ thank you so much, for the visit, the comment, and the votes . . . thanks.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Mhatter99 ~ and thank you for the visit and comment.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Docmo ~ you very commonly reference (quote) the heart of the matter . . . I always appreciate your review.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      tillsontitan ~thank you so much for visiting my hub, and for the votes-up and the generous comments . . . I'm beginning to count you a fan, and that's a great treat for me.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      marcoujor ~ I hope you really did enjoy the music, the expertly handpicked music.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      MartieCoetser -I feel like I'm always championed by you, that you are interested to advance my efforts and increase my audience, and I very genuinely appreciate that.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      btrbell ~ thank you for the visit and the comment, and most of all thank you for being our guest contributor this month, your 'Perspective:' was a great addition . . . perhaps you'll consider joining us again for another theme down the road a bit . . ?

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      bravewarrior ~ I think you're the very first commenter on a great number of my hubs - thank you . . . and this time I actually commented on yours as well.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      8 years ago from southern USA

      Thanks for sharing your perspective on loneliness. I, too, love my alone time with my reflective thoughts, as I have stated on another perspective hub. However, when one cuts one self off in complete isolation without that human connection to others, it is literally very harmful to one's health. I am glad you pointed out that we were not meant to be alone, and what God said on the subject! Your mother did a fine job in teaching you how to be a man, and a wonderful one at that no doubt you have become!

      Excellent write. Voted up +++ and sharing.

      God bless.

      Faith Reaper

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for your perspective on this subject.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      8 years ago from UK

      Mickey, you've outdone yourself with this one. I throughly enjoyed this take of 'loneliness is an infirmity of not really being you' ... I fully agree with you. As someone who can enjoy that solitary moment by the stream for hours like you did, I like this wonderful insight you bring. Well written, interspersed with wonderful music... it's a treat to the heart and soul.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      8 years ago from New York

      I have to tell you, you didn't lose me for one minute. I totally agree with every word you said. I have never been lonely, for which I am very thankful. I had parents that fostered self-reliance and the need to do things that made me proud of what I was doing. Answer to God and myself....take things as they come and live my life the way it was meant to be. As a result, I've never been lonely. I've been alone, though not much I admit, but always with a sense of purpose and belonging.

      Your perspective was definitely "right on".

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      8 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Intimate sharing on your perspective of loneliness and clever weaving of classic blues throughout...did I miss your N-Sync number?

      Excellent job, boss!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      "When people are disconnected from other people they are alone - when people are disconnected from themselves they are lonely."

      Now this is fruit for thought!

      And so true, Mickey. I became lonely the day I've lost myself - during a trauma - and it took many years before I was able to connect with myself again...

      I am sure this hub of yours will have a great impact on many. Although this perceptive of yours is also one of mine, I forgot about it.... And I did enjoy reviewing and confirming it again through your words.

      Your choice of music is absolutely fabulous!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 

      8 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      This is a great perspective! It's interesting that most of us hit on the alone but not lonely and visa versa theme. I have written about this before, as well and I love the theme ...alone but not lonely (Probably why I picked this topic!) Thank you so much for a great hub and for sharing this platform with me!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      Mickey, I can completely relate to this. In my young years I was an Air Force brat - constantly moving. I learned to entertain myself in order to avoid the sadness I'd feel every time I had to leave a friend. Later, I was no longer an Air Force brat as my mom had divorced Daddy and remarried several years later. We moved to Philly when I was 8, where I made plenty of friends, but still preferred to be alone with my imagination more times than not. I became comfortable with myself and created many different personas with my imagination. I was alone by choice, yet I was not alone. And I definitely was not lonely, nor have I ever been.

      This is great. I love your perspective this month, Mickey!


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