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Alone vs. Lonely




A few years ago I attended an event in Florida. It was nice to escape the cold of Pennsylvania and travel south. Where that week the high temperatures were in the upper 40's. So not kidding. It was a golf event and my husband said he'd never been so cold on the course. While the men were golfing, the women were herded onto a bus and transported to Saint Augustine. I should add that these were all strangers to me. I'd met a few in passing over the years but didn't even know names. We got off of the bus and made plans to reunite at an appointed time. From there we were free to do whatever we wanted for a few hours. 

I began my adventure alone. Dodged a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade size crowd of elementary school field trip children. 

Seriously.
They were everywhere.

Felt like I was the frog in a game of Frogger. I just wanted to cross the street filled with children. 

Crowds in general are not my thing. Crowds of kids on field trips? Shiver.

I wandered the shops.

I visited a museum and basked in the history.



Button art 

This used to be a pool, now it's a restaurant



Found  a coffee shop and bought an English Breakfast hot tea. 

Found a spot on a cement wall near the water where I could just sit and drink my tea.

Throughout my adventure I came upon women from our group, none of them alone like me. At each encounter I was invited to join them. I think my aloneness make them uncomfortable. 

Even while I was taking the picture of my tea and boots one of them approached and asked if I wanted my whole self in a picture. I handed her my phone and she took this shot of me. On the wall. Alone with my tea. 


It was as if taking my picture somehow included her in my adventure and she could feel better that I wasn't truly alone anymore.

But I was perfectly content being alone. 

I think perhaps we can make ourselves uncomfortable when we see someone alone. As if they need to be included so we reach out and try to coax them to join us. Because together has to be better than alone.

There's a time for together and there's a time for alone. I'm happiest when I'm alone or with my people. Put me with strangers where small talk is required and I end up babbling and humor becomes my default. 

Lancaster County is famous for the Amish and their restaurants where meals are served family-style. This means you sit at a table with strangers and pass bowls of food around to share from. I can think of nothing worse. For an introvert, this is torture. I don't mind family-style with my actual family. But with strangers? 
And bed and breakfasts, though quiet and laid back, involve breakfast and chatter with strangers. Can't I get my tea in my room?

Alone is how I recharge. I think best without the clutter in my brain that small talk and crowds create. I'm calm inside. I may appear calm on the outside when I'm in the midst of stranger-danger (there are reasons aside from actual danger that they call it that) but inside there's a storm.

Alone and lonely are two different things. I have felt lonely in crowds. Some of my loneliest times were when I was in college, surrounded by my peers. I rarely get lonely these days. 

I know my fellow introverts can relate.

Alone, to me, is a beautiful thing.


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