Solitude versus Loneliness


On being alone –

loneliness drowns the spirit,

solitude uplifts.

I enjoy spending time with others and yet I treasure my time alone. Solitude frees me to be with just my thoughts, to let them unfold as they may without interruption from the world outside my mind. This quote by Paul Tillich best describes my conception of solitude versus loneliness: “Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”

Solitude is a state one chooses whether it is to be isolated from humanity like hermits, or to be in close quarters with others yet have your own space, like living alone in a house or apartment. It is a healthy state of mind. Loneliness is not a choice, and one does not need isolation to feel the weight of this state of mind, one can be lonely and feel despair in a crowd.

Many have found that they need solitude in order to be creative. The numerous retreats for writers and artists in the U.S. and around the world offer short-term, worry-free isolation for creatives to immerse themselves in their work without concern for preparing meals or doing household chores or fiddling with the internet. Nikola Tesla believed that “the mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude.”

I find that solitude helps me to know myself. My thoughts and actions are unfiltered when I am alone and free from the influences of others; they reveal the person that I truly am, whether good or bad or a bit of both.