We’ve all done it; sat in our rooms watching Netflix by ourselves, occasionally binging on whatever food we’ve decided to treat ourselves to that night. What I’ve learned most from being in Spain, both the last time I was here as well as in the present, is that being alone is okay. In fact, it’s more than okay, it’s good.
Alone is not synonymous to loneliness and loneliness is not synonymous to independence.
I think there’s a stigma to being alone, a social judgement for not having friends to accompany you to wherever you may be. I suggest we forget this.
Being alone is a vital and empowering thing. As I walk around Madrid, I see middle aged men enjoying a beer and a book on the patio of a café, I see women doodling away in notebooks while taking afternoon coffee or reading peacefully atop a blanket in a park. All of these people are by themselves, yet are perfectly content, perfectly at ease.
I strive to be these people. I am these people. Those with the confidence and strength to be alone.
I had a friend tell me the other day that on her day off, she packed a bag, jumped on the train and got off at a random stop. When I asked about it, she happily recounted her day, telling me she spent it hiking in a quaint little Spanish town just outside of Madrid. I’ve run into the same friend reading in solitude in the tranquil Gardens of Sabatini, undisturbed by the passing tourists and background chatter, completely immersed in her book.
I’ve had another friend in another city tell me how much he treasures being alone and how much he’s come to benefit from it. Wandering streets with a camera in hand and setting out to explore his new home, he tells me how happy he is to find comfort in the unfamiliar surroundings. He’s since continued these explorations, gaining confidence in independence and linguistic skills as he goes.
Independence is an integral part of life. Finding time to enjoy activities by yourself is not something to view as sad and solitary but rather as a valuable learning experience. Whatever it may be that brings you joy, I suggest putting aside the difficulty of feeling “lonely” and finding time to be in solitude and reflect a bit on yourself and the new, beautiful surroundings of Spain.
Being alone may be no walk in the park, but it also just might be.