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It goes without saying that being alone is naturally uncomfortable. As humans, we are most comfortable in the presence of others. Now, being alone can lead to loneliness: a negative emotional response to solitude. It may feel like your whole world is falling apart. But it can also lead to great self-discovery and enlightment.

Before delving into the subject, let me share a personal anecdote.
This goes back to when I was at university. Remember how university years may be described as “the best years of your life?” Well, it’s not the case for everyone.

When I first got to university in London, I was feeling lost in a completely new environment, 10,000 km away from home. This is quite ordinary for a freshman student… But over time, I kept on meeting the wrong people, the toxic kind, who make everything more difficult during your transitioning phase.
This lead me to feel extremely lonely. What a way to start university…

The 2nd year, I chose the wrong “friends” to live with, and that also lead to a feeling of isolation. Finally, my 3rd year of uni, I decided to live by myself.

This is where things got intriguing.

Living alone for over a year and ½, I went through a serious emotional roller-coaster. As I had been diagnosed with generalized anxiety just 2 years before, I didn’t estimate the difficulty it would cause. I felt completely alone – I had lost a sense of belonging. I had too much time to think (or overthink) anxious patterns my brain had been used to having; or simply, daily worries.

“Silence is golden”

I used to never understand this saying. But once my lonely years were finished, I realized that silence was the most therapeutic and had the potential to change the way you think and the way you live – in ways you would never think of!

This silent time gave me the opportunity to seriously contemplate on my beliefs, my ideas, my personality, my goals,… and the list goes on. During that time, I didn’t necessarily understand the positive outcomes of living alone. It was just a very difficult phase. But today, I am grateful I had this experience. It helped me better understand who I am, what I am capable of, and what I want to do. It pushes you to examine your position: emotionally, socially, physically and financially.

This is key for self-discovery and self-improvement.

Let’s face it: you will never achieve a good sense of self-discovery with other people around. When you have to face things alone, this is when you get to know who you really are. This is when you get to know your real strengths!

It turns out, the difficult years I had were the most enlightening – thanks to the “loneliness” I once had felt.