Being alone isn’t lonely.

I had a long, tear-filled talk with one of my best friends tonight. We were catching up on our lives: her’s up north, my new one here in the south, and things started off light (They always do.). Soon, we got into deeper waters, and the tears were rolling. I wasn’t sad, per say, but sometimes you just need to cry out all the emotions you’re feeling: exhaustion, frustration, anger, distress. But one thing I wanted to emphasize was how I didn’t feel sad.

I’ve gotten the question so many times since I’ve moved to Florida: “…but aren’t you lonely?” Truth be told, yes, I do get lonely at times. Mainly, when people ask me this question. But it’s not because I’m brooding over all that remains in Pittsburgh. No, I feel lonely, rather, because of the stigma that word contains. I feel saddened by how the word rolls off of the tongues of those who associate being alone with being miserable.

Right now, I’m sitting alone in my dark apartment, listening to the passing cars, wailing ambulances, and hum of the city nightlife, and yes, I do feel a bit lonely. I miss the quiet little suburb I grew up in. I miss being able to walk down the street and greet all my neighbors whom I’ve known since childhood. I miss the corner deli I could walk to and get a little snack on the way home from school. But I mostly miss my family and friends.  The thing is: I really only get these thoughts when I’ve been provoked. I’m perfectly content with living alone. I don’t have to be home at any certain time. If I want to eat an entire box of Girl Scout cookies for dinner, I can. I can leave my piles of laundry on my couch for a week and a half and nobody is there to tell me to clean it up. I don’t have to cook for anyone or clean for anyone, and it’s blissful.

I’m not a particularly social person (Funny, coming from a girl who’s profession is to improve communication in others…). I’m kind of a happy medium between introspective and moderately outgoing. I can be social when I want to be, but I love my space. I think this is a hard concept for people to grasp. Most people I know are drawn to social situations. They crave human connections. I wouldn’t say I crave them, but it’s nice to be around people now and then.

There is a joke one of my SLP friends introduced to me: “what’s your autism?” (As SLPs, we all seem to have some sort of quirk about us.) Maybe this is mine. Maybe my “autism” is that I prefer solitude. Really, I shouldn’t have to justify, but if this is how I can get others to understand me, so be it. I don’t want to have to justify why I spent my entire spring break alone, running errands, tending to my mini-garden, and watching Netflix. Because it made me happy. I shouldn’t have to justify why I would rather spend my Friday nights curled up with a good book than out downing beer after beer and eating greasy, fried foods that only make me feel Saturday morning regret in a too-loud, smoky bar. Because it makes me happy. And I certainly shouldn’t have to justify that moving to Florida was one of the scariest and most liberating choices I’ve made in my entire life, because I have nobody looking over my shoulder, concerned with whether or not I make friends. Because I like being alone.

If I want to be alone, and that’s truly what I want, why should it be anyone else’s business?

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