Something ironic about loneliness

Society leads us to believe that thrusting oneself into social settings is the antidote to loneliness.

Yet, many people would agree that one can feel lonelier around a big group of people than when the person is by themselves.

For starters, just because a person is alone doesn't mean they're lonely.

There are actually people out there, myself included, who enjoy and thrive on time spent alone -- to relax, contemplate, clear their mind.

Finding yourself amidst large groups of people whom you don't know can be more isolating than being by your lonesome. Sure, you can always try to strike up a conversation with someone, but it can come off as awkward and doesn't always lead to the desired result.

This is especially true when everyone around you already is engaged in conversation with someone else.

I feel much more at ease interacting with people when small groups of 2 to 3 people are involved. You don't have people talking and shouting over another. You don't have as many people vying for attention, making it easier for timid folks to get a word in edgewise.

Smaller groups lend themselves to deeper, more substantive conversations.

It doesn't mean one can't feel lonely if they're in or around a small group, but the chances are greatly minimized.

When I'm invited to a party, wedding, or other social function where hordes of people are present, I always try to strike a conversation with someone I can draw commonalities with.

For example, maybe someone is wearing a t-shirt embossed with my high school logo or a cap representing my favorite baseball team. If nothing strikes me, I gravitate toward people who seem to be around the same age as me.

If all else fails, I pull out my trusty smartphone and distract myself with the day's news.

Thus, when people say that being around people is the cure for loneliness, they're utterly wrong-headed to say the least. If anything, it can amplify the feeling considerably.

And, remember, being alone doesn't necessarily translate into being lonely. One can be alone and feel content, as I and many other introverts do. Whereas being alone is a choice, feeling lonely isn't.

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