Upon moving to Melbourne in 2011 one of the hardest things I had to learn, was how to be comfortable with being alone.
For me, like I am sure others, this was really hard! There would be constant thoughts running through my head if I was at a cafe alone, such as 'what are they thinking of me being here with no friends' or 'that poor girl all alone', you get the gist. Yes #FirstWorldProblems... however it does make me think, how many people are living in the city, or in their homes around us and are not only alone, but also lonely.
This for me is the big difference, at times there will be moments of loneliness and I have stood in the city and watched everyone moving around from place to place and thought, how can I be so lonely when surrounded by so many people. Luckily for me if that happens I can use any of the various forms of communication to reach out to family or friends, getting used to being lonely is not something I want to do.
If you Google 'loneliness epidemic' it brings up so many articles, and it seems Britain has been voted the loneliness capital of Europe! This was an interesting article to read and even though we are now more connected than ever, we are still feeling more isolated and missing that face to face interaction.
I have learnt to be comfortable in being alone, to enjoy sitting at a cafe, reading a book, watching a movie (have still only done this at the theatre once however...), enjoying a sunset and exploring new places. A blessing of being comfortable to do this now is all the interactions I have had with strangers, having the space to meet interesting people and to connect over their stories. Some of these people have been for that moment in time and others have continued on into friendships.
There is still a lot of learning and unlearning to be done, to recognise when being alone turns into lonely and reaching out to friends, asking for a coffee or a walk, not being scared to initiate that move incase of rejection, those fears lie deep within and can often come to the surface even in those who appear the most confident.
Thankfully I wasn't as extreme as the quote in this Huffington Post article, "A recent study in the journal Science showed that people would rather give themselves electric shocks than be alone with their thoughts for just 15 minutes." The article also has a number of different ways to step out to learn to love being alone or having 'me' time.
Now after 5 years in Australia, travelling most of the country and also overseas, I have learnt the valuable lessons of being comfortable with being alone, alone with my thoughts and reflections, taking on new challenges and not being afraid to say hello to the person beside me. Each time I do this it makes me stronger and challenges me to see the good in people and to face my insecurities about being alone.
Yes I still have those insecurities... Will they ever go, I don't know but I will enjoy trying to make them!