4 min read

Are you lonely?

Are you lonely?

Do you feel lonely all by yourself on the bike? A question I got asked a lot. There are multiple ways I can answer this question. In short; I hardly ever felt lonely while I was biking, yet it was when I was around people that I could feel lonely. How does this work? What is the difference between being alone and feeling lonely and what are the advantages of doing a long distance bike trip by yourself? Lets dig in.

Let me start by saying that there is a big difference between being alone and feeling alone experiencing loneliness. In my humble opinion, I find myself pretty good company. Especially biking through Sweden there were hours where I would not see other people. Biking by myself on gravel roads through the forest was a magical experience. Listening to the sounds of wind, the forest, the animals, big and the little ones, made me realise; I’m part of something bigger and in this setting I’m never alone. These moments biking through nature are by far my favourite, trying to be as quiet as possible, trying to emerge in the moment. In these moments I was alone, but never lonely.

It was most often when I got off the bike, making camp, preparing food, having dinner, being around other people, that I felt lonely. I didn’t meet a lot of people that were also by themselves. It’s often couples, friends or families that go out in nature together. Sometimes people said hi, even shared food and special moments, sometimes people minded their own business, which obviously is their full right. Those moments, when I was amongst people, but didn’t feel seen, I felt lonely. This has nothing to do with the other people, but everything to do with me.

I learned that I have a need for inclusion and that I could feel excluded when there were people around me in groups where I wasn’t a part of; this made me feel lonely sometimes. When I was biking for hours by myself or even camping by myself, I didn’t feel excluded and therefore not lonely. So now that I know, I can relativize and shush my inner child telling her it’s okay to be alone sometimes.

However, being alone also opened many many mány doors to connect with other people. It doesn't matter whether you're backpacking, biking, or on a holiday. Every time I’m alone, it’s easier to connect with strangers. People, especially on this trip, were extremely eager to help; giving me food, drinks, help with the bike, inviting me for lunches, dinners, to stay the night. My trust in people has multiplied with 100. People were willing to share their time and their stories with me. I will write another post about giving and receiving and the magic I’ve discovered there, because this is what made my trip.

Don’t get me wrong, I missed Sebastiaan (my boyfriend), especially during magical moments, I would wish I could share those with him. Or when I was done with biking and still needed to go on for several hours, I would wish I had someone riding next to me cheering me up. Now it was just me, just me to be in awe, or just me talking to myself like an American fitness trainer. Yes, people might have wondered who this crazy chick was on the bike screaming to herself.

In the end, being able to go on this trip by myself, going through all my thoughts and feelings, cleaning up my headspace, listening to your own body, your desires and needs, connecting with what is, made this trip very special.

So what are the takeaways here:

  1. Know your needs.

What is it that you long for? What are the triggers that activate this need? By knowing this, you can either find a way to accommodate your needs. Or, just by knowing and expanding your consciousness, you can notice and be okay with it. Knowing that this too shall pass.

2. Experiment with being alone

Are you hardly ever alone? Try going on small walks, go to a lunchroom or dinner by yourself, or when you’re up for it, go on a day trip or even a holiday by yourself. Treat it like an experiment and see what you can learn,  what patterns pop up, but also what being in the moment by yourself brings you. Hopefully you’ll soon notice that being alone is different from feeling lonely.

3. Be your own best company

There is only one person like you, you know what you want, you know what you need. I have been motivating myself to the fullest, pep talks, singing songs, listening to music, treating myself to chocolate; I was my own cheerleader.

You are awesome, never forget that! You don’t need anyone to remind you of that, you can do this yourself. So be your own inner cheerleader, and maybe this sounds weird, but just do it! It works like a positive spiral, when you’re positive towards yourself, you’ll become more positive, and your inner cheerleader will only be cheering more and more.