The broken appointment

The thermometer shows 27 degrees. Nevertheless, I don't want to miss my weekly Pilates class, so I get on my bike after work and head to the gym. Together with 10 other women, I get into the quadruped stand and the plank position. Mentally, I prepare myself for my "end of work". I have already arranged a cool drink with a colleague. When I get home, I turn the key in the lock, quickly take a shower, look at my mobile phone and then: the cancellation.
"Worked too long, too much stress, some other time." Sure, who doesn't know that? You've been in that situation yourself, so I type the answer, "Sure, no problem. Another time." Although I mean the message sincerely and totally understand my friend's situation, I notice my stomach tightening. I was so looking forward to the cosy end of the day in the garden with a cool panaché. What awaits me instead: an evening alone. I let myself fall into the armchair, while away time on Instagram and then stream a few episodes on Netflix. Somehow I imagined the evening differently and it didn't make me particularly happy either.
Why not, actually? I could have gone out on my own and read a good book. Once again I find myself thinking that being alone is a condition I still don't have a good handle on. I'm just not used to it. As a child with three siblings, I can hardly remember an hour when I was completely alone, and later I lived in shared flats where there was always something going on. I enjoyed always having someone by my side to go shopping or for a walk. Being alone - no chance!

Being alone - Don't know & can't?!

Although emigration was never an issue for me, then one thing led to another and I moved to my boyfriend in Switzerland. I worked, enrolled in gym & pottery classes and took on voluntary work. Still, there were always times when I was alone. Absolutely new territory for me and at times hardly bearable. That's why I'm becoming a master at distracting myself from this state: turning on music so I don't hear the silence, arranging to make a phone call or picking out an exciting series. But I notice how this distraction mode just doesn't make me happy and I resolve to be more conscious and enjoy the next few hours when I am alone.

Why is it important to be able to be happy alone?

In order to answer this question for you as well as for me, I am going in search of answers. After all, there are people who feel this way every day and not just when things are slow. The Corona pandemic and the home office forced us to be alone every day.

  • Being alone boosts self-confidence. You detach yourself from the needs and feelings of others and get to know and appreciate yourself better. One detaches oneself from the constant feedback of other people.
  • Being alone promotes creativity. What do I actually like to do? What am I talented in? These questions can only be answered if you actively take time for them and try them out.
  • Being alone makes you independent. Going to the cinema alone, eating out, going on a city trip. Things that make us happy are no longer dependent on other people.
  • Being alone promotes reflection and critical thinking. We have the opportunity to quiet the noise around us and listen to our own inner voice.

Being alone versus being lonely

Being alone is just a state. I can be alone in the office, do sports alone, go out to eat alone and it still doesn't say much about my state of mind. Loneliness, on the other hand, describes a feeling of abandonment and inner emptiness. You can also feel lonely in a relationship, in a group or among hundreds of people. But how do I manage not to feel lonely when I am alone, but to be happy?

5 tips to enjoy being alone better!

Whether it's the Danish "hygge" (warm atmosphere) or the Swedish/Finnish "fika" (coffee break). Where other countries have already found a term, we are still at a loss when it comes to precisely defining not only an activity, but the attitude to life that goes with it. The South Korean "honjok" refers to the lifestyle of people who enjoy being alone. But how does it work?

  • Plan something nice for yourself: When you go on a date with friends or your partner, you usually plan something nice: a movie, a meal, a walk. Make the same effort for yourself and make it worth your while to create beautiful moments for yourself.
  • Set yourself conscious goals: Do you want to work on yourself? Improve your character? Read a certain book? Learn something new? Use your time wisely and set yourself a specific goal.
  • Get creative: Start crafting or painting, plant vegetables, decorate your home or try out new recipes!
  • Sensitise your senses: take a walk and consciously notice the sounds in the forest, take more time when eating and taste and smell the individual ingredients. Or feel the different materials while gardening.
  • Make a conscious decision: plan times for yourself alone and don't see them as a worst-case scenario because none of your friends have time at the moment. Only then can you consciously look forward to these times.

As I research and write this blog post, I realise how much beauty there is in being alone, which has always been so negative for me. It shows me so much value that I want to try it out right away. So next week I plan to be actively alone without music, mobile phone or TV and try to look forward to it.
I love that there are people around me who already model this lifestyle for me: My sister who spends a week alone at the Baltic Sea. A friend who enjoys her Overnight Oats alone on Saturday mornings in a nice café in the old town. My boyfriend, who doesn't care what anyone thinks when he's sitting alone in a restaurant, and my boss, whose favourite sound is silence. What about you? Let's bring the term "Honjok" to life and enjoy being alone in the future!

September 02, 2021