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The Importance of Being Alone in Your 20s

Coming to Dalhousie in first-year, I was ecstatic to meet new faces and create a perpetual bubble of people to surround myself with. However, two weeks into the year, when that dream never became a reality, I found myself constantly living my biggest fear; being alone. Now, two years later,  I can see how important that period was and I understand that those moments of alone time were crucial to the development of my 20s. I found the idea of being perceived while being alone to be one of the worst experiences I could face. But I did it and lived to tell the tale. 

Being able to let go of the pressure of having company, I began to realize that being comfortable with being alone, specifically in my 20s, could become my greatest asset. 

I believe that the fear of being alone comes from the idea that loneliness is synonymous with being alone. And yet, these two things are extremely different. Even while you are alone, you can still cherish your relationships, however you can also find time to put effort and care into yourself. This is a reality we don’t often speak of – that in order to gain confidence and grow throughout university, we have to be alone from time to time.

Despite the fact that I am so thankful to finally be on campus and live out a real university experience, I often find myself daydreaming about the silence and comfort of being alone in my room. This feeling left me with guilt – I constantly found myself thinking, “Shouldn’t I be thankful to finally have the opportunity to be around all my friends?” However, the more I sat with this feeling, the more natural it became. I was able to understand that being selfish in your 20s doesn’t have to be a bad thing. After we graduate, there will constantly be sacrifices we’ll need to make, putting things such as family, friends, or work before our personal needs. However, right now our only priority is ourselves. The term selfishness is often associated with a negative connotation, yet I believe that being selfish can create more good for those around you. Being able to take time for ourselves helps us acknowledge our feelings and best of all, grow.

In my 20s, specifically throughout university, I found that my feelings of comparison grew larger and larger. With each LinkedIn post of a classmate’s latest job update, I would always think, “Why not me?” These feelings can be extremely overwhelming, especially when surrounded by others who may not be on the same journey as yourself. Being able to dig through these emotions on your own often helps to realize that we don’t need to be the same as the people around us. The constant comparison also causes us to lose sight of our own accomplishments. We need to regain focus on ourselves, take a step back and see how far we’ve come. Oftentimes this is only possible when we spend time alone with ourselves. 

Being alone in your 20s can also come with the task of having to be your own best friend. I always hear the same saying, “Your 20s are when you find your friends that last a lifetime,” and while I know there is truth in this saying, I also believe that now is the time to find a friend in yourself. There’s not always going to be someone to cheer you on and push you to become your best self. Sometimes this is something we have to do all on our own, which can be a daunting task. It’s not always easy to be there for yourself in difficult moments, but it is something that we can all keep working on. Even little things like congratulating yourself on completing small tasks or getting a good grade on a difficult test, these little self-love moments go such a long way. 

Being alone in post-secondary life can come with a lot of emotions including the fear of embarrassment. Even small things like walking to class alone can feel like such a frightening task when it seems as if everyone else on campus has 10 friends with them at every given moment. When I feel these emotions resurfacing, I have to remind myself that the feeling of loneliness isn’t a forever feeling. Sometimes you need to sit with these feelings with a passive attitude and appreciate the emotions and growth that accompany loneliness. Sit with them, let yourself be uncomfortable and see how much you’ll learn about yourself. Sometimes, experiencing the lows that loneliness brings allows us to see the importance of our relationships. We often come out of the throws of loneliness with a higher sense of appreciation for moments with those closest to us. Being alone and being lonely may not be the same, yet they both give us the opportunity to experience our lives through an intimate lens like no other.

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Chaya Mohan

Dalhousie '24

Chaya is a third year Dalhousie student studying kinesiology with an interest in gender equality specifically within the world of sport. In her spare time you can find her buying ten dollar iced coffees, trying out new restaurants in Halifax, and watching the same five TV shows on repeat. Chaya is extremely excited to be a part of the team this year for Her Campus at Dal!