“Language … has created the word ‘loneliness’
to express the pain of being alone.
And it has created the word ‘solitude’
to express the glory of being alone.”
― Paul Tillich, The Eternal Now
I had an interesting conversation with an 11-year-old the other day. He told me that last year, he was quite isolated at school, and he had to learn how to enjoy being alone. This year, he said, things were different, and he finally felt like he had a group of friends and a place that felt like home.
I was struck by the maturity of his words, and I told him that I understood.
You see, it is better to have one person in your life who is the right person for you than to be adrift in a sea of strangers who call each other “friend.” I learned this in the last two years. I was lonely for months, and then it all clicked. I realized that I didn’t miss any particular person, I didn’t miss our discussions or the places we went or the things they supposedly found fun. Not at all.
And, at some point, I wondered how I ever thought any of them were my friends to begin with.
Solitude not loneliness.
When you’re surrounded by people who are laughing and having a great time, it’s hard to admit that you don’t belong. But, often, that’s the one thing you need to do to find yourself.
There’s a tribe for you. While you’re looking for it, learn to relish solitude.