You know, one doesn't have to be the loneliest number that you ever do. In fact, there are many instances in a person's life where being by yourself is preferred. Flopping down on your bed and listening to an old playlist made by an ex comes immediately to mind, but we're referring to that special time of the year when the gifts come out and the food goes in.
The holidays can be a real s--t show when it comes to attempting to hold onto a shred of sanity, which is why we chatted with Lane Moore, author of How to Be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don't, to talk us through, well, how to be alone for the holidays.
Check out our Q&A below. (Editor's note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Distractify: What does it mean to be alone?
Lane Moore: We have these really specific ideas of what being alone means. We think it means being physically alone, or not having anyone in the world, and it can mean that. I hear from just as many people who say, "You know what? I feel alone all the time even though I have a pretty good family and pretty good friends." It’s something that’s so universal. That’s why it’s so important for me to expand the definition of that because it is really narrow and leaves a lot of people being excluded.
How is being alone for the holidays different than being alone outside of the holidays?
LM: There is a reason why getting through the holidays alone is literally an entire chapter in my book, because I have spent my life trying to figure that out. I always felt like the only one who didn’t share that experience of being excited to go home for the holidays. For me, it really took a long time to realize how I could celebrate it in my own way. It really depends on you. So much of this work is exploring what would make you feel good during the holidays. What do you need?
Sometimes people believe that asking yourself what you need is an act of selfishness, which is unfortunate, so what are some delightful solo activities people can do?
LM: I think people need to remember that all the things we need someone else to do, you can do them yourself. You can take yourself to dinner. You can go to a movie by yourself. I think so much of this sounds obvious, but it’s really just you believing you can do these things by yourself. It can be just regular things. I hear from so many people who tell me, "I couldn’t do things like that." I always asked why not? What is the difference, really?
You own a very adorable dog. How has your dog changed your perspective about being alone?
LM: The life-changing importance of animals, for people who have experienced loneliness or are alone, is also an entire chapter in my book. I don’t think you really know until you get a pet that you really bond with. One of the reasons I wrote about it is no one was talking about what a game-changer it was for people with a lot of interpersonal trauma. I have talked to so many people who read the pet chapter and have since adopted their soul mate. I can’t stress it enough, it makes all the difference in the world.
Evidently, a new book is on the horizon, which will be a great tool to have during the holidays. What can you say about it?
LM: It’s called You Will Find Your People. The great thing about How to be Alone was that I got to share my experiences of being alone pretty much my entire life. It’s also about sharing how to take a look at the things that make you who you are, and honoring those things, and trying to embrace them so you can become comfortable with being on your own. You are trying to become an actual friend to yourself, so honor that. Once you realize you do love yourself, and you can be by yourself, then the next step is finding friends that complement you, and what you’ve learned about who you are.
If you're going to be alone this Thanksgiving, feel free to join Lane for a virtual Friendsgiving, Nov. 26 at 9 p.m. EST. There will be '80s board games, an improvised murder mystery, and everyone can be alone together. Tickets can be purchased here.