Philosopher reveals why so many people find spending time alone ‘frightening’ – and what you can do about it

Alonement podcast

With lots of talk about self-isolation and social distancing, a new podcast about being alone could not have come at a better time.

The new Alonement (opens in new tab) podcast, hosted by journalist Francesca Specter, is all about the time you spend alone and why it matters.

Hoping to rebrand what being alone means, a word that often comes with the negative conotation of loneliness, she’s interviewed a high-profile lineup - including Poorna Bell, Jo Good, Daisy Buchanan, Alice Liveing and Jada Sezer - about their own experiences of spending time alone.

Explaining the concept on her website, Francesca writes, 'It is a celebration of your relationship with yourself. It’s giving dignity and value to time spent alone, in a western society which celebrates extroversion all too highly.'

And during the first episode with Alain de Botton - author of Essays in Love and founder of the popular School of Life - he revealed why being on your own can be frightening for many people.

The author, whose books have been described as a ‘philosophy of everyday life, said on the podcast, "Being on your own is for many people not just a bit boring, it's positively frightening.

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Listen to the first episode of the Alonement podcast here (opens in new tab)

"It's horrible because you're in danger of stumbling on bits of information that will require pain in one way or another. The pain of mourning, the pain of needing to take action, the pain of realising that life isn't what you want it to be."

But if you find yourself in that camp, Alain also had advice on how to overcome your fear.

"If we’re looking for how to cure or solve the problem of loneliness, what we have to start with is changing what being on your own means. In a way, at times all of us can feel quite comfortable being on our own, but other times it’s anguishing, so let’s look at what goes on when it’s anguishing", he added.

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"We sometimes torture ourselves with the thought that everyone else is having a good time. Now we can really probe into that – what does that mean? We know well enough the reality of other people’s relationships, other people’s friendships to know a lot of people in company are not happy, very compromised in some ways."

Food for thought...

The first episode of the Alonement podcast featuring Alain is now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all good podcast providers. New episodes will be available weekly every Friday.

Mariana is the editor of My Imperfect Life. She has previously worked for lifestyle titles including GoodtoKnow covering all aspects of women’s lifestyle - from the Royal Family, beauty and fashion to wellness and travel. She was nominated for AOP Digital Journalist of the Year in 2020, and for New Digital Talent of the Year at the 2016 PPA Digital Awards. She’s mildly obsessed with TV (reality TV shows included) and spends far too much time planning her next trip away.