People often talk about the importance of being single and independent from a significant other, but what often gets overlooked is being independent from friends.
Since coming to college and living in the dorms, so much of my time has been spent with people. The little alone time I have is normally thoughtless—either sleeping or watching Netflix. Lately, I’ve realized how dangerous this can be. Human connections are important for living a happy life, but it’s also necessary to take time for yourself. I’ve found myself becoming reliant on others to live fully. I would ask people to come on hikes, bowl or go get bagels and if they said no, I would just sit around and not do anything at all. This behavior is completely illogical but really easy to fall into.
I’ve made it a challenge for myself, and I urge others to do the same, to go out alone with the intention of meeting and making friends there. When you have your friends with you, it makes it really easy to stick to them and not branch out. When you don’t have that security blanket, it’s easier to put yourself out there. When I first arrived at Cal Poly, I would often go to meals alone and scope out a friendly-looking person sitting by themselves. I know it might sound weird and a bit too forward to sit down with a stranger, but in almost every experience I’ve had, the other person was really grateful to have company.
We often build things up to be scarier in our minds, but the fact is most people are happy to meet new people and are just too scared to make the first move. I recently went to a house concert by myself because I couldn’t find any friends to come with me, and it turned out to be such an empowering experience. I ended up making friends there and proving to myself that I could have a great time without depending on others.
Friends always make things more fun, but doing things alone can be even more rewarding.
The simple act of going to dinner by yourself can be really empowering. When you go out to eat, find a small booth for you to plop down in and daydream and enjoy your food for a little while. Try not to bring your homework, book, or phone; it’s really good for your health and psyche to spend time without distractions and just exist. If it feels uncomfortable, that just means you need it even more.
The act of sitting by yourself without distractions is so important. Your brain needs time to work through any sh*t that has been going on in your life, and at the very least, a time to rest. I recently explored a creek bed on campus, wading into the cold water, and hanging my hammock nearby. My phone was dead and I hadn’t brought any books so I was unable to take pictures or look at social media, and I’m so glad looking back. It helps to completely detach and be in the moment.
We need to stop associating being alone with being lonely. It can be really empowering to go places by yourself with the intention of meeting new people, as well as taking the time to be completely by yourself. Don’t wait for other people’s schedules to align with yours; use your time doing things you love whether or not you have someone to go with you.