What is loneliness?
Like many things, it helps to first describe what it is not. It is not the sheer lack of company. One can be surrounded by literally hundreds of people and still feel lonely. It is a sensation that, doubtless, all of us are familiar with. This juxtaposition serves to only worsen this cold response.
One can even be in the intimate presence of another, and still feel loneliness.
So what, exactly, is this feeling that sometimes punctuates lapses of solitude?
Loneliness is not feeling connected to those around you, and being unable to properly convey, communicate, or interact with others while being comfortable as your true self in the process.
It bites harder in crowds of people because the close, physical contact merely serves as a kind of evidence that you do not feel as if you belong, even with so many chances and opportunities for interaction.
Then again, there are those who seek out solitude, who enjoy it as a healing process. However, like anything, too much of one thing can easily lose its taste. Even the most reserved person can find themselves craving some kind of physical or emotional contact with another.
Introverts struggle with this, often craving physical solitude but perhaps not the loneliness that may accompany it. They enjoy deeper, less fickle connections, and would sooner have one intimate friend or partner than ten or twenty friends that have just scratched the surface of their trust and boundaries. But of course, those relationships are rare, and take time to develop.
I would not go so far as to that it is exactly the opposite for extroverts, yet I am also hesitant to think they feel the same in this regard. Either unknowingly or consciously, extroverts and introverts seek different styles of relationships, and therefore endure the pangs of loneliness differently.
But how do we defeat, or cope, with loneliness?
Like other concepts sensitive to our internal nature, understanding is the blazing sword that slays the beast that is a lack of knowledge and wisdom, that is to say: fear.
Because we understand that loneliness is mostly a construct of not having others who can speak and converse with us deeply, genuinely, we have no choice but to conclude that, (when not looking to ourselves for a solution), loneliness is assuaged by the occasional, beautiful, and extraordinary people that cross our paths.
People who, when we talk or share experiences with, make us feel happy, or even a sense of belonging when we otherwise felt lost. They help us feel the opposite of loneliness: closeness. Someone came to mind, right? Good.
But what if no one did? Or what if that individual has recently left your life for one reason or another?
That is where you come in. You, alone, first and foremost, have the power and responsibility to respect, love, and care for yourself between those stages in life when another will come along to help us.
Be patient. Find peace in the silence. A wife (or husband) and kids is noisy business anyways.
And hey, at the end of the quiet, dark evening, who's to say that some solitude isn't good for you, anyways?
You are, after all, your closest confidant.