The broken appointment

The thermometer reads 27 degrees. Nevertheless, I don't want to miss my weekly Pilates class, so I hop on my bike after work and head to the gym. I join 10 other women in the quadruped stand and plank position. I mentally prepare myself for the end of the day. I have already arranged to meet a colleague for a cool drink. When I get home, I turn the key in the lock, take a quick shower, glance at my cell phone and then: the cancellation.

"Worked too long, too much stress, another time." Sure, who hasn't been there? You've been in this situation yourself, so I type out the answer: "Sure, no problem. Another time". Although I mean the message sincerely and completely understand my friend's situation, I feel my stomach tighten. I was so looking forward to a cozy end to the day in the garden with a cool panaché. What awaits me instead: an evening alone. I sink into the armchair, while away the time on Instagram and then stream a few episodes on Netflix. I somehow imagined the evening to be different and it didn't make me particularly happy either.

Why not, really? I could have sat out alone and read a good book. Once again, I find myself thinking that being alone is simply a state that I'm still not very good at. 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 way!

Being alone - I don't know it & I can't do it!

Although emigration was never an issue for me, one thing led to another and I moved to Switzerland to be with my boyfriend. I worked, enrolled in a gym & pottery course and took on a voluntary position. Nevertheless, there were always times when I was alone. Completely new territory for me and sometimes almost unbearable. That's why I'm becoming a master at distracting myself from this state: turning on music so I can't hear the silence, making phone calls or picking out an exciting series. However, I realize that this distraction mode simply doesn't make me happy and I resolve to be more conscious and enjoy the next few hours when I'm alone.

Why is it important to be happy alone?

To answer this question for both you and me, I'm going in search of answers. After all, there are people who feel this way every day and not just when things aren't going so well. The coronavirus pandemic and working from home have 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. You free yourself from constant feedback from other people.

  • Being alone promotes creativity. What do I actually like doing? What am I talented at? These questions can only be answered if you actively take the time to try them out.

  • Being alone makes you independent. Going to the movies alone, eating out, going on a city trip. Things that make us happy are no longer dependent on other people.

  • Being alone encourages 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 sport alone, go out to eat alone and it 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 can I avoid feeling lonely when I'm alone and instead be happy?

5 tips to enjoy being alone more!

Whether it's the Danish "hygge" (warm atmosphere) or the Swedish/Finnish "fika" (coffee break). While other countries have already found a term for this, we are still at a loss when it comes to defining not only an activity, but also 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?

  1. Dosomething nice for yourself: When you go on a date with friends or your partner, you usually plan something nice: movies, dinner, a walk. Make the same effort for yourself & make it worth your while to create beautiful moments.

  2. Set yourself conscious goals: Do you want to work on yourself? Hone your character? Read a certain book? Learn something new? Use your time wisely and set yourself a specific goal.

  3. Get creative: start crafting or painting, plant vegetables, decorate your home or try out new recipes!

  4. Sensitize your senses: consciously listen to the sounds in the forest while walking, take more time when eating and taste and smell the individual ingredients. Or feel the different materials when gardening.

  5. Make aconscious decision: plan times for yourself alone and don't see them as a worst-case scenario because none of your friends are free at the moment. This is the only way you can consciously look forward to these times.

As I'm researching and writing this blog post, I'm realizing how much beauty there is in being alone, which has always had such a negative connotation for me. It shows me so much value that I want to try it out right away. So next week I'm planning my active solitude without music, cell phone or TV and trying to look forward to it.

I love that there are people around me who are already living this lifestyle for me: My sister, who spends a week alone at the Baltic Sea. A friend who enjoys her overnight oats alone in a lovely café in the old town on Saturday mornings. My boyfriend, who doesn't care what anyone thinks when he's sitting alone in a restaurant, and my boss, whose favorite sound is silence. What about you? Let's bring the term "honjok" to life and enjoy being alone in the future!

October 26, 2023