Many people’s greatest fear is loneliness. After all, the human species is naturally a social one. Every day, you see friends laughing together, going to parties, and having a fun time. You might also see a couple having a romantic candlelit dinner or going bowling together. But what if something deprives a person from doing these things with their friends or significant other? What happens if they don’t even have either of those things? Are they to wallow in their loneliness and fall into a depression? It happens too frequently, especially when they have no support system to fall back on. I’ve known many who fell victim to this loneliness, even when they had people around them. The problem isn’t their lack of friends, though having some definitely helps. The problem is that they don’t love themselves. You must love yourself before you can love others. The ability to be alone but still be content is essential. It is a skill that we, as humans, must practice and hone as we mature. That is what Jean-Paul Sartre’s quote is all about. “If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company.”
There will be many moments in our lives when we are faced with forced independence and solitude. The first moment many experience is moving out of their parent’s house to go college or to get a job. It is such a rough transition that many underestimate. These kids are still teenagers who have always depended on their parents for support but after they graduate high school, they are thrusted into adulthood and into a place where they don’t know anyone. People deal with this transition in different ways; some are alright with it and embrace the independence. On the other hand, there are those who feel lonely and afraid.The idea of being alone is stressful, scary, and it can cause anxiety and depression.
A completely different situation where people experience loneliness is when they are not alone. A person may have twenty family members and friends around them but still feel lonely. Look at all of recent celebrity suicides that have happened these last couple of years as well. You never think it would be possible for a famous person to be lonely, but it is. The suicide that affected me the most was Robin Williams’, a death so unexpected it felt like someone had sucker punched me. He seemed such a joyful person on the outside but loneliness plagued him, and this quote shows how much: “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.”
Both of these situations show the profound impact loneliness has on a person. To cope, you must learn to love yourself and be at peace with who you are as a person. Take time off from the things that stress you out and find something that you enjoy doing, whether it be writing, painting, or even rock climbing. Give yourself time to think and breathe in fresh air. I’m happiest when I watch the sunset by the river that I live close to, alone and in silence. You are your best companion. You are never truly “lonely” because you have yourself.