How do you handle loneliness?

i don't get lonely. but it's not because i'm a badass. although i am a badass. it's because i conditioned myself to spend time alone.

in 2015 i went on my first solo trip abroad, to Chiang Mai, Thailand. besides general excitement and nervousness leading up to the departure, i also started feeling "afraid" of being alone.

not, alone in the dark. or alone as an English speaker, surrounded by Thai. but alone in a literal, day to day sense. who will i talk to when i wake up? in the kitchen? while on the couch in the evening, watching Netflix?

i've always been a social, extroverted guy. i make parties fun. i generally lead group projects and take control in social situations. all that.

but when i got to Thailand, i had none of this. and i had to cope. so i did a few things:

  • kept my mind busy (i was there to study, not hang out, and i told myself this maxim: i'm not here to hang out)

  • became painfully aware of my mortality, and that we all have the same hours in the day

  • realized many of my "friendships" were just "let's poison our bodies together" (drinking) and comisery

  • set personal development goals that are more easily achieved alone, like weight loss and strength gain

  • developed a passion for reading book and watching documentary films

these are small changes, but they led me to where i am today... traveling full-time, barely speaking English except 1x /week at my team standup meeting.

ultimately, it's about your values. if friendships are the most important aspect of your life, the side effect is loneliness. if you value achievement, the opposite could be argued.