Alone or Lonely?

I remember distinctly the first time I felt lonely in the big city. 

It was San Francisco, 2015, and as I familiarized myself with the route to and from my home on Jackson & Columbus to Market Street, I couldn't comprehend how I felt so lonely, so isolated, and sad at being by myself when I was surrounded on all sides by people. 

Short people, tall people, big people, small people, there was always someone out and about on the streets of San Francisco.

See, I've always been comfortable with being alone, because being alone is a choice, but this was a different feeling entirely, this loneliness.

I guess this is common in the city though. It's said that cities can be the loneliest places to live, for the opposites of being surrounded by people and still feeling this sense of seclusion is strong. 

Everyone around me is busy with themselves, their lives, and I've encountered many an occasion in which I attempt to smile, or compliment a stranger, often to be shut down or looked at strangely.

Since moving to California (again), I've once again become all too familiar with the feeling of loneliness. Loneliness is this sensation that feels like I'm shrouded in the thick folds of the Invisibility Cloak. It's often only understood by the lonely one and it feels like my body folds in on itself and burrows deep in sad realization that I feel I am utterly and completely by myself in this world.  

I know I'm not, and I know I make the conscious decision each and every day to allow myself to feel this way, but it nonetheless consumes me at times. 

It's especially difficult in an unfamiliar setting. Though it is month two of my move, I'm still trying to find my footing, trying to make new friends, and be as caught up in my journal as I can. I know that these are the steps I need in order to move forward and not let the loneliness take over. 

As easy as it feels sometimes to just wallow in self pity, I know it’s not good for me and my growth. 

I know the difference between being alone and being lonely, I just have to make the choice that loneliness is not an option.

See, I think I've been looking at this from the wrong perspective. 

Sure, I don't have an intimate relationship with a significant other. Sure, I haven't found a solid friend here who really gets me and listens to me. Sure, I'm without the loving purrs of my cat, but you know what I do have? Me.

Being lonely is classified as being "...without another person and you are sad and unhappy as a result. We may choose to be alone, but generally we do not choose to be lonely."

That being said, it's about time I looked at my situation and accepted that I do have a fulfilling relationship: my own. 

As rupi kaur so wisely puts it in her new book:

if I am the longest relationship

of my life

isn't it time to

nurture intimacy

and love

with the person

I lie in bed with each night

Society makes it seem like loneliness is a bi-product of being single. But I am surrounded by so much more than this expected idea of a significant other. And though it hurts at times to lie in bed and cry myself to sleep over the fact that I haven't really experienced intimacy with someone else, I also know that someday, when I do eventually meet someone, I'll hopefully be full, complete, and I'll know exactly who I am.

And I'll have accepted that living alone is perfectly fine, and loneliness will be a distant feeling. 

It’s a work in progress, obviously, but I’m looking forward to that day.