Aloneness is a noun that describes the physical state of having no one else (or no friends) present. Loneliness is a noun that describes the aching sadness one can suffer from feeling alone. The two are often conflated in modern society -- but they don't have to be.
It's easy to believe that our lives are too full for solitude. But the rewards of carving out time for yourself are great (just be careful that it doesn't feel like an obligation). Befriend yourself, and prioritize one-on-one time with that friend.
Many people who get divorced are so used to being married, that being with someone is all they know. They've spent virtually no time alone in so long, that being with the wrong person is almost easier than being by themselves.
When I told friends I was heading to Portland, Oregon for 10 days by myself, the responses were pretty uniform: 'Do you know anyone there?' 'Won't you get lonely?' 'Aren't you too old for a road trip?' The answers were 'no,' 'no,' and 'no.'
If you're single, it's natural to feel a bit left out with all the commercial hype about the holiday out there. But the truth is you don't have to ignore the meaning behind the day -- showing love and appreciation for someone you love.
Being an only child taught me the most valuable skill of all: the ability to be alone. Sure, I had friends growing up, but I was just as content to sit in my bedroom alone, playing with my Playmobil dollhouse as I was to have a friend join me.
It's very easy to fall into a "poor me, nobody loves me, I'm going to go eat worms" state of mind when you don't have any invitations for the holidays. Alternatively, you could choose to enjoy your holidays anyway. It's all in how you see it and who you hold accountable for the situation.
Eighty years ago, Virginia Woolf introduced her daring concept: A woman needs time to herself. It is 2011 now, many complicated generations later. How are we fulfilling that need amidst all the clamoring others?