Humans are social beings, and in that comes the need to be with other humans, to be part of something, to be included in the lives of others. People aren’t meant to be alone forever, and they need companions and community. Nobody wants to be lonely, but being alone and being lonely are not synonymous.
There’s nothing quite comparable to a balmy summer evening, strolling along the downtown cityscape arm-in-arm with someone who makes you feel safe, who feels like shelter among the world’s chaos. And there’s nothing quite like the feeling that comes with knowing that someone’s heart beats for you—that there is another heart out there that embraces your quirks and failures and moments of goofiness and things that make you flawed but also beautifully human. There’s no substitute for that feeling of I’m finally home that you find in another person. But sometimes that feeling doesn’t last, gets lost, or slips away, leaving you to walk those same streets, but this time alone.
Being alone can be an uncomfortable feeling: It’s exposure, it’s being seen. It’s having no one to hide behind and no one to catch you when you fall. But being alone is a teacher, and its lessons are some of the most invaluable ones you will ever learn—and will only learn—in your season of solitude.
This is for those times when you are unattached to a significant other—whether you just left a relationship, or you’ve been on your own for some time now, or you’re trying to make something last that you know isn’t meant to because you’d rather take lackluster over alone—just realize that this season is trying to show you something. Everyone is presented with a season of aloneness, sometimes more than once, but whether you decide to use it or skip over it is a fork in the road leading to paths that will yield different results.
I hope you choose to embrace this time in your life, this period of solitude, and I hope these are some of the things you walk away with.
1. Being alone teaches you to make your own decisions, to become comfortable with and attuned to the direction of your heart’s compass, learning to trust it and follow it.
There’s no one else telling you which way to go, and this is the beauty of exploration, of finding and trying and failing and succeeding simply because you want to experience the vastness of the innumerable possibilities that lie ahead. Thinking about making a career switch? Itching to make a long-distance move and start somewhere fresh? Now is the opportune time. With no one around to try to sway you one way or the other, the choice is yours to simply explore.
2. Being alone teaches you to reach out to those who you may have left behind—whether intentional or not—when you were in a relationship.
It provides you with a new lens to help you refocus on all the connections you have, or have had, in your life, showing you a close-up of those you may have forgotten when your priorities were elsewhere. Maybe you missed out on spending time with your grandparents while you were preoccupied with your significant other. Or maybe the phone calls to your mother became more and more infrequent. Now is the time to change that.
3. Being alone teaches you that you can survive on your own if someone leaves you.
Whether by death or intentional separation, experiencing loss has a tendency to reveal your strength and show you that you’re capable of prevailing even when you feel like you’ve hit your lowest point and you’re drained of everything you are. Because there’s still some of you left, and it’s enough to keep going and start over again. It’s time to invest in yourself and rebuild something stronger and more beautiful with the broken pieces.
4. Being alone teaches you to be self-sufficient.
It teaches you to value hard work and every achievement you make, because it’s something you accomplished on your own. Making your own money and knowing that you are the only way to get what you want pushes you to continuously strive to become better. Being financially independent is freeing and shows you that you are the primary reason for your own success. Whether it’s your home, your car, or virtually anything of value, being able to say “I’m the reason I own these things” is an amazing feeling.
5. Being alone teaches you to become comfortable with the sound of your own voice.
You learn to recognize who you truly are as a person, everything you stand for, believe in, and won’t settle for. You learn about the things that give you a spark, a jolt, and inspire you to speak up because you’ve found something that matters to you.
6. Being alone teaches you to reflect on things you’ve done in your past and pave a new path for the future.
Maybe it’s a mistake you made in a past relationship that you wish you could take back. Whatever it is, being alone gives you the space to remember—but not dwell on—the you that you once were. And it gives you the freedom of a blank slate to map out a new route to the you you want to be.
7. Being alone teaches you to appreciate the little things, the quiet and subtle things you may not fully recognize at the time, but the things that truly make a huge impact on your life.
Whether it’s a stranger’s smile, a peaceful night cuddling on the couch with your cockapoo, or cracking open the spine to a new book by your favorite author, being alone teaches you to be grateful for the small, beautiful things in the world that sometimes you might overlook.
8. Being alone teaches you to listen.
It teaches you to become comfortable with the silence, to listen for whispers from God in the wind or the chirps of birds or the embrace of family. It hands you an amplifier so you can hear the hints, see the signs, and understand the messages that are trying to reach you.
9. Being alone teaches you to recognize your own value so you can one day attract someone else who will recognize it in you as well.
There is so much strength in simply standing alone, in letting the world see you as an individual. Refusing to hide and taking control of your own life is something not everyone is able to achieve. It helps you to zero-in on your designated place in the world, focus on what you want the outcome of your life to look like, and realize that no one else on this planet can make this happen but you. Understanding that you are irreplaceable will help you to attract the right person who will see that in you.
10. Being alone teaches you to open your eyes to others’ struggles.
It teaches you to become more compassionate and empathize with those who may be lonely in their aloneness. Not everyone has learned to be content by themselves, and maybe you are meant to be the one to show them how. And being alone helps you truly notice people who may be suffering, giving you time and an opportunity to reach out to them. Whether that’s providing a resource, a listening ear, or just being a companion for someone going through a hard time, this period of life on your own is perfect for trying to help someone.
11. Being alone teaches you that, to find happiness, you truly need to look inward.
Being in a relationship with someone often contributes to immense happiness, but you are the only one who can fulfill yourself and determine whether your heart sings for the long term.
While I hope that reading these words helps you, I also hope you know there is more value in the experience. So before you dive into your next relationship or decide to purposely avoid being alone, remember that this season is trying to teach you something.
There is beauty to be found in being alone, and there is beauty in coming together. The key is to make sure you recognize the lessons you’re meant to learn in each season.