Being alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely

“How to Be Alone” describes how not to be lonely in solitude.

It’s Friday and you have no plans. “No one loves me, that must be the reason,” you think to yourself. It’s probably best if you just crawl under the sheets and pretend this Friday isn’t even on the calendar, right?

Maybe not. In Tanya Davis’ new poetry book “How to Be Alone,” with illustrations by Andrea Dorfman, the two women describe the art of being alone — yes, it’s an art — in a way that will make you want to friend up with yourself and explore the world through only your own eyes.

“I think there is a stigma about being alone in public; I can see why people avoid it,” says Davis, a singer-songwriter who embraced solitude as a way to hone her art. “I used to do it because I didn’t want people to think that I didn’t have any friends or essentially that I was unlovable. … [But] when we spend a lot of time alone all of our thoughts, all of our regrets, all of our fears and anxiety can come up because we have space to entertain them.”

As a part of her journey to understand what it felt like to be alone, she wrote the poem that became the book. It turned out to not just to be an aid for herself, but something that resonated with millions of people: The video version has almost six million views on YouTube. Davis credits that to solitude — which yes, can become scary and lonely — being “a pretty universal experience.”

But just because it’s scary, you shouldn’t run away from it, the author says.

“Our heads can be really hard and mean and there is sadness in life,” she says. “But I think it’s OK to go into it a bit. With the sadness, there is also joy that you can only access if you quiet down for a minute.” The result you might come across is “joy that doesn’t come from things or people.”

Try it

So how can you feel comfortable spending some solo time? Here are some tips from Davis:

  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Have some patience and just try baby steps. Maybe go out for a coffee alone if you are not comfortable going out for dinner alone.
  • Remember that even though you are alone right now, you are not actually fully alone. You are still a part of life.
  • Don’t get caught up worrying what other people think if they spot you alone. No one cares as much about us as we care about ourselves.

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