There is a great distinction between being alone and loneliness.
We can be lonely even when we are in a room full of people. If the room is full of people who lack virtues or at the least an appreciation for it.
We are lonely when we are helpless, when we don't have anyone to repose on when we are in trouble, in grief or suffering from a vice like anger or envy.
That is why we feel lonely when we loose a loved one, a friend, wife, mother or son. We were used to relying on them in times of need.
One is not lonely when one is surrounded by virtue, even when one is completely alone. One's own virtues or virtues of a wise friend. We are alone when we are inflicted with vices or are surrounded by misguided people.
"Hence, in a journey especially, we call ourselves solitary when we fall among thieves; for it is not the sight of a man that removes our solitude, but of an honest man, a man of honor, and a helpful companion." - Epictetus
A philosopher practices to be independent. A philosopher can converse with himself. There is a lot to converse about after all! He talks to himself about -
- How he would cure his vices?
- How he will gain more virtues?
- How he will be of service to others?
A philosopher needs no one to repose to in times of trouble except for philosophy.
So being alone is a gift, we just don't realize it. But -
"Every gift is dangerous to a beginner" - Epictetus.
Like a stoic practices poverty , we should also practice being alone. To get used to it, it make it less scary and dangerous to us.
We should practice being our own best companion, adviser and protector. And devote what is left in us to advise and protect others.
Notes from reading -THE MORAL DISCOURSES OF EPICTETUS
Also read related notes -
On seeking approval of others
On dealing with fear