Being alone vs. loneliness

On the introvert-to-extrovert spectrum, I identify as someone who tends to fluctuate from one side to the other. Sometimes when I feel like I have been socializing too much, I crave quietness and alone time. On the other hand, I’ll spend a lot of time alone and realize I haven’t interacted with a human being in a while. Human beings are a social species, yet the need for solitude (in some people) is very real. In my life, I have lost many people close to me. Toxic friendships and unhealthy relationships took a toll on my mental health. I eventually started to put up a facade to myself and others that I hate people. That I can’t stand being around others and I would much rather be on my own all the time. I didn’t realize it right away, but it was a defense mechanism. I reasoned that if I can train myself to be alone all the time, then I won’t care about the feelings of rejection, betrayal, and loneliness that other people have caused me. I have to pat myself on the back for how independent I am. I live on my own and do almost everything I need to by myself. I depend on myself for happiness. But for a little while, I was feeling lonely despite enjoying my own company most of the time. I was starting to push the few important people in my life away because I thought they would eventually leave first, just like the people in my past. Then one day I realized: even though people have left me, I am still okay. I am still able to pick myself up. These negative experiences made me stronger. It made me realize that at the end of the day, no matter what happens, I will always have myself. Still, that is not a good enough reason to push others way. Being there for myself means taking care of myself in every way possible. It means making time to be alone when I need it and making time to be with others when I need it. I felt ashamed for craving friendships and closeness because I convinced myself that emotionally depending on others is a bad thing. I convinced myself that people have left me because I’m not good enough. I always try to be a better person and improve myself. But I realized I can’t please everyone. So yes, I do still love being alone, but I’m not going to push the important people away anymore. I’m going to let myself meet new people and learn everything I can from them. Because if any of them ever make me feel those pangs of emotional pain I know I can depend on myself to feel better. But I also know that I am a human being who has a need to be a social creature. I am putting myself first when I decide if I need to be alone or if I need to stop being lonely.