the irony of being a lonely loner

I was a shy kid. I moved schools a lot and I found it progressively harder to make friends, especially in primary school. So books became my friend. At my last primary school I had a special spot to sit where no one could disturb me, behind a raised garden bed in the courtyard. There I would immerse myself in stories and their characters. They made me feel calm. Like I wasn’t alone. As though no matter what was going on at home, or how I was treated by other kids and the teachers, everything was okay.

I’ve come along way since then. I no longer have difficulty talking to people or making friends. The one thing that remains from my introverted primary school days is my desire to regularly have alone time. I need time in the mornings to do my thing, to meditate, to drink my warm lemon water and green smoothie without comment. I need time to go for walks by myself. I need seclusion when I’m writing.

If I’m having a bout of thyroid symptoms, I don’t want to talk to anyone or even go out of the house. I feel vulnerable because I can’t rely on myself to speak in intelligible sentences. My head becomes cloudy, I feel bursts of dizziness wash over me. I lie down exhausted but often can’t sleep.

All in all, having alone time allows me to recharge, to find peace and balance within myself. The problem is that I have struggled with feeling lonely over the years. I’m not sure what lonely feels like for you, but I feel it right in my heart. My chest tightens. My body feels as though it’s literally sinking a little bit. Usually I’ll contact friends and family. Organise a social get-together, click attending on a facebook party invite. Surely the cure for loneliness is to surround ourselves with people we love?

A few weeks ago however, after a weekend spent visiting friends, laughing, eating and walking in the sunshine, I felt the familiar pangs of loneliness envelop me as I was driving home. The same feeling that had prompted me to organise the weekend in the first place. It was frustrating to say the least.

The next day I had a day off work and so I took myself on a bush walk. Walking is a great way to clear the cobwebs in your head and the endorphins from exercise push away unhelpful thought soundbites that are on repeat. What I realised whilst gazing out over the mountain ranges near Fitzroy Falls, is that diverting from a higher, soul-quenching purpose is the fastest way to drive myself towards loneliness and depression.

To that end, it didn’t matter how many social engagements I booked in, my loneliness was waiting to resurface as soon as my attention returned inward. I needed to get back to doing something that mattered. Working and earning money for it’s own sake doesn’t cut it.

I got home and researched writing competitions so I could give myself a deadline for the book I’m writing. I made the decision to move back to the city and find more satisfying work. In the last week I’ve made inroads into starting a business that I think could help many people. More on that later.

I’m feeling much better. I have moved past my eagerness to drown out my own thoughts by watching television series on my laptop. I am feeling much more invigorated. I’m plunging myself head first into life. It’s messy. And sometimes scary. But its better than sitting on the fence and not trying.

Are you a loner? Do you ever feel lonely? What do you do about it?

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