I have no problem spending time by myself. I'm not bothered by going to a movie alone, I often take myself out for breakfast on Sunday mornings, and given the choice between spending a Saturday night alone in my apartment or being with people who I don't totally adore, I'll almost always choose to stay in. I've always been comfortable in my own company.
Being alone in the larger sense, however, is a different story. I'm utterly awful at dealing with loneliness. It completely paralyzes me, but so do the things that might alleviate the problem. At heart I am profoundly introverted. For most of my life, I've had only a few close friends at any given time. Right now I could count the number of people with whom I feel deeply comfortable on one hand, even if I were to experience horrible frostbite that caused me to lose a couple of fingers. Yes, there is always a larger group of people with whom I enjoy spending time, and who always know, more or less, what is going on in my life, and I theirs. But I'd never call them up and ask if they want to see a movie with me. My shyness would keep me from even considering it.
For the most part, this has worked out okay for me. Whenever I've been far away from those few close people, there were always roommates and co-workers and boyfriends (who themselves would eventually be counted among the close) around to fill in the gaps and fend off the loneliness. I very rarely felt like I was somehow lacking socially, and so I've been able to make it to 26 without having to push myself too terribly far outside of my little world.
Now I suddenly find myself single, living alone, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, really struggling to figure out how to not be lonely in such an all consuming way. I've canceled dinners that would have been fun, I've spent a couple festive holidays at home rather than face a bit of awkwardness to join other people in what they were doing, I've skipped parties... anything that would have caused me to put my toe over the line o' comfort has been avoided at nearly any cost. I simply haven't wanted to make myself feel any more vulnerable than I already do. My awesome friend M, who is one of the very close few, but who lives across the country, has been trying to help me brainstorm ways to get out of this rut. By now she's nearly ready to kill me, I'm certain, because every good suggestion she's given me has sent me further down my little foxhole. Eventually I'll have to come up. I'm shy, not reclusive. But it's going to take some bit of courage that I haven't found yet.