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Is it just me, or are we all a little bit lonely? I feel like most of us are lonely in some capacity — maybe in physical aloneness, or feeling misunderstood, or not feeling emotionally connected, or isolating yourself in your own head. We live our lives and we function, but it’s there, whether we hide it from ourselves or others.

I’m not talking about being alone or single. That is its own struggle. Aloneness and Loneliness are identical twins, genetically the same, yet distinct and separate.

The state of being alone does not mean you feel lonely, and vice versa.

When I was solo on my trip, I really didn’t feel lonely. Even during the roadtrip when I would drive for hours in the literal middle of nowhere, I was fine by myself. Part of the experience was challenging myself and embracing being alone. Don’t get me wrong — I HATED dining alone, and when I was at a spot with lots of young people having a good time, I missed having my friends to enjoy it with. But for the most part, I found peace in the solitude and empowerment in the independence. 

But I felt more lonely on my birthday this year than I did on all the days of traveling solo last summer. Sometimes I can be in a room full of people and feel like i’m the only one in the room. Loneliness is a familiar companion.

Maybe the difference is choosing to be alone and owning it vs. being left alone. 

It is very human to yearn for connection, to be truly known. But we try to fill that hole with things, good or bad, that will never satisfy. Social media is making it worse — we are more “connected” than ever, yet somehow feel less connected. And we confound our desire for emotional intimacy with physical intimacy. They are not the same.

We’re all faking it some days, masking the loneliness. Let’s reach out to the humans around us. Let’s be vulnerable. Let’s strive for real connection in our relationships. You never know if the person sitting next to you, or taking your order, or dining alone is one of the lonely people.

Then at least we can be alone together.

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