Is it weird to be alone?

Me-Time: Why being alone doesn't mean being lonely

Hand on heart: Can you bear it when you're alone with yourself? Or do you have the feeling that the ceiling is falling on your head? Being alone is such a question of faith. In fact, there seem to be two types of people: those who find being alone enriched and sometimes even need it, and those who feel a loss in these moments and pick up the phone immediately.

I have some friends who I feel like it's hard to be alone. All of your free time is filled with meetings of any kind - even if it's just "a quick pint for a quick beer". An evening like this in the best company, i.e. only with yourself, can be really great.

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Me-Time: Just have nothing to do with it

Even as a child, it was the greatest thing for me when I could dream and play alone for hours. Of course, it was also great to play with others. But also alone. No siblings or friends trying to dictate rules. Completely submerged for hours - great!

Even today, I still find it enriching to have time for myself. No appointments. Just do nothing. As in a diary entry from 1770 attributed to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: "Experienced nothing at all. Nice too. " Or the wonderful quote from Harald Juhnke: "No appointments and easy to sit down. " What sounds simple at first can be extremely good.

The difference between being lonely and alone

Still, being alone is not really positive. Eating out alone, traveling alone, going to the cinema alone - we always find all of this to be something special, at least worth mentioning, and somehow also a bit strange and strange. If you sit alone in the café, the other people look at you as if you have been transferred. It is actually the most normal thing in the world to be out and about on your own.

Many people also do not like to be alone because they associate being alone with loneliness. However, there is a very simple but crucial difference between loneliness and being alone: ​​We feel lonely when we did not get into the situation voluntarily, but when it was imposed on us. However, if you have chosen to be alone, the feeling of loneliness and loss does not arise in the first place.

And: while being alone means that no one is there, that is not necessarily the case with loneliness. We can also feel lonely in the company of others. And nothing feels worse than standing in a crowd and feeling lonely and isolated.

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Loneliness makes you sick

Ultimately, loneliness is no good for anyone. Scientists like John Cacioppo from the University of Chicago have even shown in studies that loneliness can shorten life. It makes us susceptible to infections, weakens the immune system and is just as harmful as smoking or being overweight.

However, it is completely different with being alone. There are studies here, too, and they show that a little me-time is more than good for us. In a survey of 18,000 people in 134 countries, conducted by academics in collaboration with the British broadcaster BBC, being alone was named the third most relaxing activity. And another study by psychologists from the Technical University of Dresden showed that people who sometimes have time to themselves are more stable in terms of health and mental health (read more here).

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You have to learn to be alone

Many people are no longer used to being alone. However, it can be learned. What initially feels strange becomes increasingly familiar - and more valuable. Check it out. You concentrate more on what you do, hear, feel, see. You are completely with yourself and in the situation. That can make things and the experience more intense.

Which doesn't mean we should all become hermit crabs. But it is an experience that you should definitely have for yourself. It is not without reason that it is recommended time and again to travel alone. It is not without reason that people consciously go offline from time to time, go to the monastery and attend mindfulness or silence seminars.

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Women are taught that being alone is a no-go

It's just a shame that we women are often told that we have to feel insecure on our own. Come home alone in the evening. Travel alone. Sitting alone at the counter of a bar. We are told we need a protector to protect us from unwanted pickups, harassment and attacks.

So it's no wonder that we women have often denied being alone and unaccompanied experiences. Or that we hesitate when the colleague talks about the great experience of traveling alone through Asia. Isn't that too dangerous?

And that's extremely annoying. Because that's how we miss a lot. Nobody should put themselves in danger, but it's sad that we women still have to worry about this in the 21st century. That we change the side of the street, don't put on the short skirt and think that we can only get home safely in the company of men.

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Is shared experience worth more?

We also have to make it clear to ourselves that we are very limited with the compulsory accompaniment: We suddenly make everyday things dependent on our surroundings. For example, going out to eat. Why should it be sad to go out to eat alone?

We perceive things as incomplete and not beautiful when we cannot share them with others. When we experience something beautiful or new, we usually feel the need to communicate directly. If we are alone at the sea, in another country or in a great film, we have the feeling that someone is missing with whom we can share what we have experienced.

As nice as this idea of ​​sharing is, the question remains: Is the experience alone worth only half as much? Some things, like a sunrise by the sea or the screeching of wild geese in the sky when they come back to us in spring, are so perfect in themselves that you don't have to share or comment on them.

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Video by Esther Pistorius

Why Me-Time Makes So Sense

If we make our goals and plans dependent on someone realizing them together with us, be it just a movie that we want to see or a goal in life that we want to pursue, then we are certainly not doing ourselves a favor. As great as compromises are, we miss things that are very important to us.

And: It strengthens self-confidence when you do things on your own. At first it might be strange to sit alone in a coffee. But once you've done it, it can feel extremely good. It just has a completely different appeal to sip your latte alone and perceive your surroundings in an unfiltered way. Conversations, smells, looks.

Unfortunately, once we are alone, we tend to do chores instead of doing things we'd like to do. As soon as you are alone, you do some laundry or do other things on your to-do list. And this is exactly where we should rethink. As soon as we are alone, we have me-time from now on - and we should only use it for ourselves. And really only for us and what is good for us. Washing clothes is definitely not part of it, is it?