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Alone or Lonely: What’s the Difference?

Updated on December 19, 2018

I like my loneliness, and the thoughts it brings…

I’m sure you know the words, but do you know the subtle differences between them?

If you were to look up these two words in a dictionary, you would find that among other words and definitions, the two would probably be synonyms for each other.

However, if you were to look at some of the other entries above or below, you would find that they are different when used in sentences.

If you’re new here, or if you haven’t read my profile page, you might wonder why I’m seemingly giving this little English lesson. Well, loneliness is a common thing nowadays, and while I was pondering what to write about, while at home alone, I thought about this, and just went with it. On this site, I am dedicated to writing about many things; things that have to do with life in general. I call it life survival advice. I find that I like to talk or write about these things. A lot of them I’m confident I have some experience in.

At some time, we’ve all experienced loneliness. It’s true that they’re some people that cannot possibly be without others around them; they are naturally gregarious. They avoid being alone out of fear; out of fear of being singled out, betrayed by their friends behind their backs if they are not there; or because they have to constantly talk to people all the time. They depend on other people to make or break their mood; to make them happy.

There are the poor souls who seem to have nobody for some reason, whether they are avoided by people, or they think that they are better off that way, and they hate it; it drives them crazy, but they don’t know how to actually socialize to make things better and so the cycle goes. They are truly lonely.

There are others that are alone as well. They prefer being that way for whatever reason. They may have friends or acquaintances that they see every now and again, but the true term for these people rather than lonely is independent. Think of the phrases “lone wolf” or “loner”. They believe in the saying, “if someone else can’t get the job done right, then do it yourself”. They don’t particularly need others for much. They might adopt this attitude towards socializing, where they have many contacts at work, but few outside the workplace. Or they might have a few friends, but prefer to work alone, possibly as an entrepreneur, or at least with their own office instead of mingling (read cramped) with the others in their cubicles. Maybe some like to be alone while working and when resting.

When I was young in school, I had a few friends, and only saw some of them outside of the classroom. Other times there were friends that I only saw in school, and rarely outside of the classroom. I found that I could only tolerate being around others for so long before I found that I just needed some alone time.

I’ve had some good friends, but only a few out of many rotten eggs. I’ve also had many dealings with some kids at school that I didn’t like, and the feeling was mutual. As I got older and the innocence of childhood left us as we entered high school, and everyone went off in separate directions; different schools, different sports and hobbies, different groups. The margin between having many friends and having none at all got slimmer every year. There’s a thin line.

After I left high school at fifteen, I went off to a college and finished my studies there. It was a correspondence college, where I worked from home. There were personal reasons why I left school, and one of them was that I found that I preferred being alone; horror of horrors! I couldn’t take the classes, the cliques, and the abuse handed to me from other kids as well as the teachers. Don’t think just because they wear ties and shirts, or bras and skirts, that they are all nice.

I found that when I was alone while studying or working on a project, much like this site, I performed better; I worked for longer and concentrated harder. And if I wanted to socialize, all I had to do was phone a friend, or hang out with my brother. I’ve also had a close talking friendship with my mom as well. You can say whatever you want about that, but it’s important to have good family ties, because once your family is gone, you’ll have nobody - they are the closest beings you have on this planet in most cases; blood really is thicker than water.

I didn’t know why for a long time, but I actually realized on a sadder note that I became very cynical and disillusioned with people after many betrayals. It happens, and what’s more, you learn your lesson and you don’t open yourself up very easily.

When I am on my own, I experience so much more in terms of thought and knowledge. I am quite bookish at times, and enjoy formulating my opinions and theories, and I write them down. I just don’t want to keep them to myself anymore.

I find that when I am around certain people, and they are many of them, I just don’t feel that I can talk about some of these things to them. It’s like I have to temporarily shut off the tap that flows and lets all my ideas into my very contemplative mind. There are forums that are helpful here, because if a person is interested in a subject, all they have to do is join the topic and converse…well, type anyway.

I decided to go one step further and start my own blogs and so on, so that I could cover all the many things that I felt like doing. And besides, I like working on my own…

"I only feel alone around other people. Couldn't be truer."

— Robert "Mr. Freezy" Pronge (Chris Evans), The Iceman

Alone or Lonely? Both?

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© 2010 Anti-Valentine


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