There is a difference between being alone, and being lonely. Though in this day in age, it seems to have a bit of a stigma and many look upon it as being one in the same.
Yet that could not be further from the truth. Being alone, does not equal being lonely. You can be surrounded by people and still feel and be alone. Many of us have felt like that at least once in our lives.
Being alone is a big part of self care.
I'll admit that I didn't have the best experience in school. I was picked on and sometimes even bullied. Yet I was surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of my peers. I was lonely.
Until I realized I didn't need to be.
I didn't change who I was or have a movie makeover and suddenly become the ideal beauty and dating the high school quarterback. No. I just stopped being lonely by realizing I was good enough for me.
I took the time to find out what I enjoyed. I found things I was passionate about, I learned more about them and I also found out what held no interest for me. I spent my alone time developing my mind and heart.
I had a passion for creating. For art and telling stories through drawing, photography, reading, and writing... and other forms of creativity. I even learned to knit, and despite the "grandma" jokes I often get over it, it's not a cake walk and it does take skill as well as having many benefits. I threw myself headfirst into each of those things.
I've gone to movies alone, gone out to restaurants for lunch alone, shopping, and to signings alone. I struggled with those things for much of my life because of the stigma attached to doing anything alone. It's not always comfortable, but I'm no longer willing to put off what I want because it makes others uncomfortable that I am willing to do what they deem "group activities" by my self.
I go to movies alone if my husband doesn't wish to see it with me. Who talks during a movie anyway? I take road trips over a thousand miles alone because my husband is constrained by his work schedule. (Okay, I might have a dog or two with me, but they aren't much for conversation.) I go out to lunch alone, because I'm hungry and don't want to just grab a burger or eat a sandwich at home but want a nice warm meal I didn't have to cook.
Since then, I've never stopped searching for things to learn and love. I can spend my days alone with my dogs and never feel alone. Yet, my social skills are still on the fence of being okay and being super awkward. (Okay, mostly just super awkward.)
Someone close to me had the opposite experience in school. Always the popular person, surrounded by several people all the time. But this person never learned how to be alone. With free time and no one around, they are lost and struggle to find something that engages their mind. Though they have tremendous social skills and can become BFFs with a total stranger in less than five minutes.
Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad thing at all. In fact, there are plus and minuses to both our polarizing experiences. What we both lacked is a kind of balance. Something we are both working on to this day.
You see, balance to both is important. For your mind, heart, and soul, you must learn to be alone, to discover who you are without anyone or anything to distract you from it. But you must also learn to know what it is like to be surrounded by others and how to communicate.
Being around others is a good thing, but being alone is also very misunderstood, yet very important.
Knowing who you are and knowing what makes your heart soar, is a huge part of self care. Whether you are an author or reader, or both, or neither. Take care of you in the best way you can.