Loneliness Is The Best Personal Development Strategy - Here's Why

Tom Kuegler

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

In 2016 I decided to take off across the United States in a Mazda 3 by myself.

My first night I stayed in the worst hostel you could possibly imagine. There were like 16 beds in a single room or something and the temperature hovered around 78 degrees all night. 

That’s New Orleans for you.

The only thing that cooled me down was this half-broken rickety fan threatening to plunge from the ceiling at any moment.

It was awful. I felt so uncomfortable. I questioned why I was doing all of this. I was alone.

Fast forward five months and I arrived back home in Maryland after traveling to 23 states, taking hundreds of unbelievable pictures, and having my whole life changed.

My life changed.

I got featured by NowThis in a really cool video that got a million views, and I was put on a pedestal for accomplishing the dream of long-term travel in my 20's.

What I never talked about, though, were those really tough nights by myself. The nights in a new town where I knew nobody, did nothing, and wondered what in the fuck I was doing there by myself.

The hopeless nights alone.

But you see, these nights were the real treasures on my journey. Not the pictures, or the friends I DID meet, or the countless miles through beautiful American wilderness.

The loneliness helped me build character, and loneliness is something you need to start feeling ASAP.

Most People Don’t Ever Feel True Loneliness

“You’re born alone and you die alone and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts.”
-Don Draper, Mad Men

Loneliness can be like public speaking for people. They hate it. The simple thought of it invokes sweaty palms and tight chests.

Because of this incredible fear, they avoid loneliness like the plague.

Traveling alone? NOPE.

Going to the bar alone? NOPE.

Moving to an entirely different city alone? MEGA NOPE.

See what I mean? Whenever people talk to me about my journey traveling across the United States, I often get questions about how I dealt with the loneliness.

Well, I dealt with it the same way you deal with the pain of stubbing your pinky toe on a chair.

I felt it. I experienced it. It wore off. I moved on.

There’s no way around it — traveling solo guarantees that you’ll stub your soul on the chair of loneliness. The only way to deal with it is to, well, deal with it.

There is no secret. You just endure it.

Did I feel awkward as hell numerous times on my road trip? Hell yes. 

The lessons I learned because I dealt with loneliness are numerous. The battle is won by simply exposing yourself to it. When’s the last time you did something just to feel pain?

It takes a hell of a person to know they’re going to feel pain in some form by doing something and to do it anyway. Here’s WHY you should purposefully feel loneliness.

The Fear Of Being Alone Controls Your Whole Life 

Fear ultimately controls us.

You’re scared to talk to that pretty girl because of fear.
You’re scared to go to a new country because of fear.
You’re scared to publish online because of fear.

The fear of loneliness keeps people from traveling in particular. And waiting on somebody else to join you is a nightmare. Not to mention traveling WITH someone can be annoying as fuck.

So people don’t travel. They don’t ever enter the fiery crucible that is solo traveling. 

And this fear controls their whole life. 

I want you to live a life where you’re not controlled by fear. I want you to live where you goddamn want to live. Did you know that around 30% of the world’s population lives outside the country of their birth?

70% of people in the world stay right where they grew up. I talked with a man in South Carolina yesterday who has never traveled outside this state. 

He’s pushing 60. 

I want you to solo travel because the fear of loneliness can control your whole life if you let it.

Freedom From The Fear Of Loneliness Will Change Your Life

For me, loneliness is a seriously misunderstood feeling.

It’s like hearing a scary dog bark at you from behind a fence, then watching it turn into a bundle of joy as you get closer.

When you’re lonely, it’s not like you’re sitting there by yourself feeling pain and learning nothing. You’re learning a fuck ton. You’re understanding you can do shit by yourself. You’re realizing that you’re more capable than people give you credit for. 

The next question is, once you’ve been through this, how challenging is everything else?

“Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.”
-Dan Gable, Olympic Gold Medalist

I’ll amend Dan’s quote. “Once you’ve gone to a new place by yourself, everything else in life is a fucking cakewalk.”

You’ll realize you don’t need people anymore. All you need is yourself.

Nowadays I actually choose solitude over people a lot. I’ve spent the last three months at home by myself doing nothing but working and playing video games. It sounds depressing, and it sometimes is, but I’m able to hold my breath for so long underneath the surface because I’m trained for it.

I can be by myself for long periods of time and be content. 

It’s a superpower. 

The less things you need, the better off your life is. 

It’s called being content with who you are. Being a strong person. Being independent. If you want to be all of those things, go fuck off to Southeast Asia for three months by yourself. 

You’ll come back an entirely different person.

There’s A Silver Lining In Loneliness

Humans don’t learn much from feeling good.

We learn more when we’re in pain.

That doesn’t mean you need to go step on a bed of nails every day for the rest of your life to feel suffering or something. What it means is, if you’re in a painful situation that you don’t want to be in, there is most likely a silver lining somewhere.

In the case of feeling lonely, I believe there’s a massive silver lining in the form of learning to stand on your own two feet and take care of shit by yourself that we often miss.

You will show yourself how powerful you are. 

That’s a lesson worth years of lonely nights.

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