We’ve all been alone at one point in our lives. While some thrive off of being with their friends, others are perfectly content with their solitude. Sometimes, in order to be okay with time alone, you need to develop strategies from childhood. These people share how they dealt with their loneliness as kids.
#1 Tailor One’s Mood
I mostly spent time listening to music. I discovered that music can tailor one's mood. Enhance it, negate it, change it entirely. It's an enormous boon until you fall into depression and can't bear to listen to anything happy or upbeat, so you spend days at a time listening to the darkest stuff you can find and it only makes it worse.
#2 Problem Reader
For me, obsessive reading. Like, I used to read so much that it eventually became something of a problem. I read all the time in school during class instead of working. I would also consistently read through recess and even on the bus. I pretty much spent every waking moment of my life with my nose stuck in a book.
#3 Into My Own Mind
I used to wonder why people hated lineups so much because I could just go into my mind and roam around in there for all sorts of escape. That all changed when I went through clinical depression and anxiety as well as addiction issues. After that, being in lineups would trigger a panic attack. Being in my own head was like living inside a Bosch painting and the last place I wanted to be. It was terrifying in there! I’ve been sober 1,229 days now and I can honestly say I like lineups again and roaming freely through my own mind.
#4 A Bit of Space
Occasionally, I find myself completely on my own for a few days for work. I typically choose to work those times to give myself a bit of space from both school and family commitments and what I’ve ended up doing is just recording my thoughts for 20 to 45 minutes at a time. It gives me a chance to fully process anything that’s been going on the past few weeks.
#5 They’re Coming
I talked to myself a lot when I was a kid. I'd pretend I was a famous baseball player or football coach and it was off to the races. One time, some teenagers were sitting in the bushes in a place where no one ever sat and I was walking the dogs and giving an inspirational speech. I came around the corner and they were like, "They're coming to take me away!" I said, "I guess so" and got out of there as fast as possible. I didn’t talk to myself in public anymore!
#6 Equal Attention
I used to sleep with all of my plush toys, laying them in what I thought were friends groups. For example, all the bears were together, the dog and the cat were together because they were cousins, etc. I even remember waking up in the middle of the night to face the other side, so those who were at my back wouldn't get sad.
#7 Along the Way
I started walking home from school while reading a book in the fourth grade. Mind you, the school was almost two miles away across the busiest street in the city of 300,000. It started as a punishment when I missed the bus in the second grade. My father told me, "That's not my problem, you better get your own butt to school." So, I walked. But after a while, I took a liking to it and would choose walking over the bus anytime the weather was nice. All the while, I’d be reading a book along the way.
#8 That Side of Me
I'd make up imaginary worlds and stories and then write them down in little "book" forms. This, of course, backfired when one of my teachers decided to encourage me by making me read one story in front of my second-grade class one day, thus making me look even more like a weirdo. Since then, I stick to putting my short fiction and fanfiction on the internet rather than letting anyone read it. I'd rather have criticism and praise from strangers than let the people around me see that side of me again.
#9 Reimagined Versions
I've never truly been friendless in my life, but more often than not, I was the weird one in my friend group. I sometimes felt alone and made worlds in my own head all the time as a kid. I still do this sometimes. It's fun. Sometimes with completely original characters, usually ones I create in video games like Soul Calibur or Dragon's Dogma. Sometimes it'll be something like my own original take on an existing character I like. I have multiple reimagined versions of Spider-Man and Ultraman in my head.
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#10 Just Peace
Zoning out and staring at random things. I was always told to stop doing it as a child, but I’m now thankful that I can do it because it shuts off everything. I can’t hear, I can’t move, and I can’t speak. Just peace. I have had some traumatic events happen, which is probably why I’m able to do this to the degree that I can.
#11 Changed Me as a Person
My parents got me a dog. It completely changed my life. I went from excruciatingly lonely to having a best friend overnight. It also changed me as a person, I was outside a lot more and became more socially because I was happier. If you ever thought about getting a dog, head to a shelter and see if it’s right for you! There are plenty to go around!
#12 Behind the Scenes
Alter egos and other personalities felt more real than real people because you understood them, their motives, their feelings, and their actions. Whereas you only ever really understood others' actions and could only guess what was going on behind the scenes. It didn’t feel that way with people I genuinely understood.
#13 Submerged in Books
I pretty much submerged myself in nothing but books. They helped me through a lot of things. To sum it up, I had a pretty interesting and tough childhood and ended up reading when things became tough for me. Especially when I was locked in a room, which was every day. I had books hidden there at the very least.
#14 Foster Imagination
Immersing myself in an imaginary world. I now realize it was a coping mechanism for my chaotic environment. I’m 20 years old and still have it, but I need to let it go because I have a habit of slipping in and out of it when I’m doing essential things. The adult world makes it much harder to foster imagination.
#15 Nothing is Permanent
I had almost no friends while I was growing up in high school. At the time, it seemed pretty permanent. However, after that all finished and I got a job straight out of school, everything changed. It sounds silly but I just felt a lot more confident being in surroundings where people didn’t know me while was 12. All I’m trying to say is nothing is permanent. And don’t give up!
#16 Let Me Be Me
I had a doll called Friend. Therefore, I had a friend. I didn't play with her, she sat on a shelf in my room and made me seem more "normal.” The only lonely thing about being a loner was that other people thought it was weird that I preferred my own company. If other people would just let me be, I wouldn't have even noticed that I was supposed to feel lonely when I was by myself.
#17 Something Was Wrong
I had a teacher tell me off once for getting through a book so fast. I was obviously spending my evenings reading instead of doing my schoolwork. Yes, I was reading secretly by torchlight. Before that, I had an hour of bath time. I wasn’t allowed to come out, so I read. Then at nine, it was bedtime. I was 17 and I had to be up at 8:00 a.m. the next day. I was awake two or three hours a night, trapped in a dark room and this had been going on for years.
Before bath time, I was at my martial art classes. I had about 30 minutes an evening to get all my work done. It sucked. I couldn't keep up and I had to tell a teacher my mom screamed at me until I was a mess, accusing me of all sorts of crazy things. I asked them if they could work through that, then somehow found the time to get everything else done. It ended with my mom being dragged into my school after my grades dropped and the school finally realized something was wrong.
#18 Poor Little Girl
My mom wouldn't let me have plush toys because she said they were "disease carriers." All I was allowed to have was a small blanket and a throw pillow. It's super sad to look back at that poor little girl who literally wasn't even allowed to have a stuffed toy for a friend. Thank God I'm grown now and out of that place.
#19 A Whole New World
For me, it wasn’t so much creating worlds in my head as it was immersing myself in them. I mean, what can I say? I’m not ashamed to admit that series like Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl worlds felt like home to me. I must have read those books — the early ones especially — over 15 times each. I don’t regret anything.
#20 My Coping Mechanism
My family was lower class while I was growing up. While I had friends at school, I was very self-conscious about having anyone over outside of school. I spent a lot of time at home alone. I was way into video games as a kid and didn't realize this was my coping method until later in life. I used to think of the video game characters as my friends, in a weird way. I got sad when they passed away and felt proud of them when they did well. It was always hard when a game came to its natural conclusion and there were no more adventures.
#21 The Impact of Music
I didn't realize just how heavily I depended on music to help me cope and understand my emotions. I never really felt like I had someone with whom I could discuss them. I've become emotionally invested in understanding the impact music has had in my life and trying to better understand music on a more technical and emotional level. It's heavily shaped who I am as a person.
#22 Expressing Myself
Creative outlets. Painting helped me express my feelings, writing focused my thoughts, and creating music served as a fusion of both. Reading books and listening to music became a sort of one-way form of socializing where I could learn so much about someone that I could feel a connection with them. I never considered myself a loner until I grew up and realized how much I enjoyed being alone at times.
#23 Friend on My Back
I used to have so many stuffed animals on my bed because I didn't want any of them to feel left out. In middle school when I had no friends, I brought a stuffed animal in my backpack so I could look at it every time I went to grab a notebook or something to remind myself that I wasn't alone. It definitely helped.
#24 My Answer to That
Collecting inanimate objects and keeping them as pets. I must have heard about the whole pet rock thing (90s kid) at some point and decided to run with it. I had a pet rock, feather, shell, leaf, etc. I would make habitats for them inside empty shoeboxes. I’d also talk to and play with them. I grew up in apartments and we never had the money for the pet deposit so we never had pets. I guess this was my answer to that.
#25 Constant Changes
With low-end Asperger syndrome, there was a constant change in things I did to counter loneliness. Sometimes I didn't do anything, as I actually preferred solitude even if I had a chance to join other kids. Then it started to grow and grow on me more. I've, at one point, been a class clown and attention seeker.
What I realized I was always retreating to were single-player games. Only a year ago (after my first breakup) did I realize how shut-in I was by looking at my Steam library. It really defined my past five years. It was painful but very motivating. I kickstarted again many lost real-life and internet friendships that I wasn't interested in years back. I'm finally getting my life on track that I want it to be.
#26 Inside the Box
I used to have a box. In that box I use to collect all kinds of stuff like magnets, bolts, wires, pipes, lighters. Playing with fire was my favourite game. Because of that, I'm a pretty handy man today. I can fix almost any kind of everyday stuff, but I'm still a pretty lonely guy. I feel like I've lost a lot because of poor social skills. I learned the hard way how important that is and wouldn’t recommend it.
#27 Constant Battles
Creating large-scale LEGO cities in either my basement or dining room. I’d take over all the furniture for a day until my mom would make me take it down and move it somewhere else. I then kept the same main characters and devised a group of evil ones. From there, I would have constant battles between good and evil.
#28 Best Friend I Ever Had
I used to talk to my dog Paddy as a kid about anything that I needed to. Of course, he understood none of it, but at the time, just having him look at me while I vented to him for 10 minutes was all I needed. I really hope that he's doing okay up on the Rainbow Bridge. He will remain the best friend I've ever had.
#29 The Whole Nine Yards
I made an entire wrestling promotion with my figures. I grew up as an only child and got pretty lonely sometimes, so I painted a wrestling ring I had, made an entrance ramp out of cardboard, used my Xbox and TV as the music for entrances, kept a book of all the matches and had my own pay per views. There was also a monthly schedule with a weekly TV show, storylines and promos, the whole nine yards. That was the majority of my time spent from seven to 13.
#30 Those Experiences
I had some woods in my neighborhood that I would play in. I had imaginary forts, places I would hide, etc. It was the only place I felt free. It makes me sad at times to think about how clueless I was as to why I was lonely at the time. I’m much more aware now and while I feel for that child, I know those experiences made me who I am today.
#31 Going Exploring
I read a lot of books, wrote more in journals than talked to people, and penned incredibly detailed fantasy fiction stories. I also spent a lot of time in the woods by myself. I had sisters, but they rarely came exploring with me. However, exploring was probably one of my very favorite things to do as a child.
#32 Sports Commentator
I used to analyze my life as a third-person sports commentator, describing my action and their purpose for an imaginary audience. For some reason, it gave me a sense of competition and I tried to do my best (on my own standard). It was quite helpful later in life when I had to teach and explain how to do my work to other people.
#33 Under the Stairs
I used to draw and play with medieval toy soldiers and cardboard castles me and my dad made under our stairs. (Our stairs looks like one of those modern stairs that doesn’t have anything below.) My mom would bring me snacks and suggest going out and play with my cousins. But, no way. That spot was super fun for me.
#34 Tired of it All
I wasn't lonely when I was a kid, I became lonely after I lost my father 13+ years ago when I was 15. Then, I slowly lost my friends and without realizing, I isolated myself from the world. I never really thought about how to deal with loneliness. But, I like reading, writing, drawing, watching something, surfing the net, jogging, talking to myself, mimicking fictional characters, etc. This doesn't work all the time and I'm tired of it all, though.
#35 Struggle for the Morpher
I had a Power Ranger Morpher to keep me company. There was the struggle for the Morpher when a teacher tried to take it off me and I wasn't letting it go. It wasn't allowed in school after that. I don't know why they wanted it so badly, I wasn't playing with it, it was just on my wrist where I always had it. So, I started just bringing the Turbo Morpher key in.
This became a big deal when some stupid dinner lady decided it was a knife. (It looks like a large car key.) Luckily, I just got told to not bring it in anymore, but that didn't stop me. I wore it under my shirt as a necklace. That thing still lives in my backpacks. It's been all over the world at this point, although when I travel, it's Morpher part comes with it and it stays connected until I'm away from the airports. I don't want it confiscated for being a knife.
#36 A Very Good Dog
I was a very shy kid and very quiet. One day when I was eight, we got a dog from the shelter. The next day at school, I wouldn't shut up about my cute new dog. I told everyone stories about her, showed pictures, etc. The teacher actually told my parents that the dog changed me and that it was a very good decision. She lived to be 16 and was a very good doggo.
#37 Soft Toy Friend
Back when I was in elementary school, I had very little friends. It wasn’t uncommon for me to talk to myself at times. I remember being attached to a soft toy as a friend, who I had named Fluffy. I would walk around the halls in school during recess. Thinking about it now, I guess I am still a bit of a loner.
#38 Extreme Introvert
Writing self-insert stories, drawing a bunch of different stuff and sitting on the internet where I wasn't so lonely. But now, I just accepted the fact I'm a loner. I’m not really lonely since I enjoy every moment I can sitting at home and not talking to anyone. I turned into an extreme introvert with social anxiety.
#39 The Road Less Traveled
I had a dirt bike and I loved exploring the nearby mountains and just being by myself. I loved going alone cause I was very spontaneous. I'd be riding down a path, see another path and just take it because I felt like it. Once, I rode with another guy in school and it was really hard because we had to debate every road or path to go on.
#40 Keep Things Interesting
Back when I was a child, I used to play some board games and use all of my stuffed animals as my "competition." Sometimes I'd let them win, just to try and keep things interesting. I honestly didn't really realize how sad and lonely that whole activity was until a few years ago when I was thinking back on it.
#41 Going Anywhere
Hiking. I grew up in the Appalachian mountains so it would be no big deal for me to get up in the early morning, tell my mom I was going outside, and stay up in the mountains all day, just wondering. As long as I didn’t cross the peak of the mountain and could hear my mom yell when supper was ready, I could go anywhere.
#42 Trapped With Someone
I used to pretend I was trapped with someone in an avalanche or a stuck elevator or a tiny capsule that survived a shipwreck. It was always a confined space of some sort, and always with one or two other people, but no more. I realize in hindsight the root of this fantasy was "if they're trapped with me, they can't leave me alone." But it was a go-to daydream for a huge part of my life. The elevator version persisted until I was in college.
#43 Outcasts at School
Talking with the ''outcasts'' of schools. Most of them were very reserved, shy, some were even terrified when I approached them, even though I was also treated like nothing. Some of them became very close friends and aren't even considered weird anymore. They’re also the people who taught me some of the most important things in life. One thing is for sure is that I would have never become the person I am now. Those people taught me kindness in a really different way.
#44 Private Shed
I got bullied a lot and didn't have great or many friends when I was a kid, but my parents used to pretty much force me to go out. It was probably just to get me out of the house. I used to say I was going out to play then just hide in the shed down the end of the garden until dinnertime. Actually, I had a pretty nice setup.
#45 Haven’t Looked Back
My parents never would let me have a dog (or any pet for that matter). I was like, "Please, you don't understand. I have so much love in my heart and nowhere to put it." I was depressed and lonely and had horrible self-esteem. I still think having something that was mine to love and care for would have really been therapeutic for me. Now, I'm just emotionally stunted and don't know how to express or receive affection. As soon as I got out on my own, I got a dog and then more dogs. I haven't looked back since. They are so good.
#46 Break Up the Pressure
During childhood, I would up going to the washroom all the time because I knew it was somewhere I could be alone for a minute and not be disturbed. Going to the bathroom was a way to break up the pressure of social interaction (particularly with people who made intense eye contact or required a lot of attention).
#47 Embracing Solitude
I just ended up embracing it more than I thought I would. I got tired of focusing on being sad just because I had no friends and thought maybe my perspective was wrong. So, I really made that effort to just enjoy my solitude. I'd be that emo kid reading by myself during recess. Kids would occasionally try to be nice and talk to me, but by then I didn't need anyone's reassurance or approval of how likeable I was. Whether I had company or not, I was just as happy. I still am.
#48 No Plan or Anything
I never really felt lonely, I always occupied my brain with something outside. When we moved, my options of outside fun were cut down to basically none. All I had was my girlfriend next door and I slowly started to get lonely whenever people weren’t around. So, I started writing stories. There was no planning or anything, just pen to paper. Four years later and I can actually write pretty decently now.
#49 My Bubble
I was reading way too much and was in my bubble most of the time. I remember that when my best friend was coming to my house, we would do nothing but read or play Nintendo DS, each one separately but we were just fine being together. My mother didn't like the fact that we didn't want to play, so she would tell us to stop reading when we were together. We continued reading and whenever she came to my room, we would hide our books and do as if we were playing.
#50 Tomb of Playlists
Overdosing on music. I've gone through so many earbuds in my life because of how much I listen to music. My Spotify is a tomb of playlists I've created in my free time. In the last year, I discovered 800 new artists. I developed heavy depression in high school and it was the only way to cope. My family would badger me for always having earphones in. To this day, I'd rather ride in a car with music playing than hold a conversation.