Solitude not Same as Loneliness

November 16 , 2019 . By Tsion Fisseha

Growing up with a significant age gap with my siblings, I found solace in being alone. I somehow crafted a whole universe in my own room. My imagination ran wild, and nothing and no one had the logical reasoning to make me re-think my decision to be alone. My little self did not seek validation from anyone outside my body.

The same ideology followed me to school, where I made little to no effort to make friends or acquaintances to make the days shorter. This reality of course changed as I started to get molded by the reality of the environment I was placed in. Soon enough, I noticed that my independence and my way of thinking did not line up with that of everyone around me. Despite my true belief in being alone, I was forced into this world that frowned upon the very idea of leaving out the whole world outside.

In this day and age, it seems like everyone is almost always labeled. Someone is a millennial, a 90s kid, an old soul, an introvert, an extrovert and a weirdo for thinking that being alone is the most liberating thing one can do for oneself. Someone who is not labeled will have to somehow attach themselves to some category, or they will be forced to be caught in the crossfire for being unable to choose a clear left or right. These classifications somehow create a cluster of like-minded individuals.

But this social contract, which is designed to eradicate miscellaneous labeling, is put to the ultimate test when one is faced with the reality of isolation well into one’s life journey. One does not know who they really are until they are forced to be completely isolated from the society and community that made them who they are.

And this self-awareness through the forced trauma of separation is one of the cruelest yet liberating phenomena in one’s development. And to this, one can ask, “How well do you know yourself?"

Despite the contrary belief, spending time alone can do wonders for the development of one’s emotional growth and maturity. According to an article released by Forbes, being alone could have various benefits. Among these are the fact that alone time increases empathy, productivity, creativity, and it also plays a significant role in mental strength. Studies show the ability to tolerate alone time has been linked to increased happiness, better life satisfaction and improved stress management.

How many of us can truly enjoy our own presence? And what did society tell us to make us believe that we are not worth our time?

Psychology professor Ester Buchholz (PhD) wrote: “Invariably, solitude meets with social questioning, if not censure. Even worse, people associate going it alone with antisocial pursuits and unnecessary risk-taking. Perhaps most striking, solitude conjures up pangs of loneliness.”

We are the creators of our desires, and needs and if we cannot spend enough time with ourselves trying to figure out what those desires and needs are, we will all just be a speck of dust, roaming around the earth with absolutely no direction and no need to change that state anytime soon.

Now this is not to mean that companionship is the evil of our century, for it is blissful in its own spectrum. It is really easy to find a cause and stand in that specific and categorised crowd, but it takes an immense amount of courage to stand alone. Finding peace and comfort in solitude requires love and care for one's self: the same things that open up various prospects to make the world we are living in a little less lonely.

PUBLISHED ON Nov 16,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1020]

Tsion Fisseha is a writer and head of foreign languages in the news department at a local TV station. She has been a part of a pan African poetry slam competition representing Ethiopia and is a member of a rock band entitled the Green Manalishi. She can be reached at

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