Navigating the Tricky Balance of “Alone Time” & Living in Community with Others

If you’re like me, you love your alone time, or an idea that has recently caught wave as the catchy slogan, ‘self care’. However, since I’ve been in college, I’ve been caught between the fear or missing out and taking my necessary alone time. Especially the first year, it feels like there's a constantly a flutter of activity, and you can't help but want to be a part of the action! After all, you're wanting to make new friends, and the friendships you've already formed are still so fresh. The newness of your social circles make for a level of uncertainty, even missing out on one weekend could be the thing that will define the friendship forever. 

On the other hand, connection is so important. Seeing and being with others in community is what we were made for, and when we feel isolated, we start to feel lonely. So where do we draw the line between alone time and needing to be with others, even when we don’t necessarily feel like it? When do we push ourselves to go out of our comfort zone and when do we choose to listen to the voice telling us to take time to rest? Unfortunately, there’s really no easy answer. However, I am worried that, at least in my own life, I’ve pushed the term ‘self-care’ into something that really isn’t self-care at all, but sometimes saying no to things that I would actually enjoy and appreciate. There is still so much to be said about the classic term, ‘getting out of your comfort zone,’ and while I certainly don’t want everything I do to be marked by that term, I still want some part of my week to be me doing something that makes me just a bit uncomfortable, because it’s in uncomfortable situations that we grow the most. To me, it feels like the term ‘self-care’ is becoming centered around turning down anything that makes you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable or out of place.

However, we shouldn't choose to do things based on the worry that we'll be left out if we don't go. The worry of, "if I don't do this then all these people will make friends without me" is always and completely untrue. And even if it were true, would we want to be close friends with people that exclude us based on missing an experience? Of course not. I'm focused on finding the happy balance of saying yes, because it feels good to be with people, not out of fear of missing out. I'm also finding the beauty of saying no when I need to, because rest makes me feel more whole and more connected with my thoughts. Surely, we can have both.