Alone, But Not Lonely: Why it's Okay to Not Have a Friend Group

Some people may mistake me for being withdrawn or lonely, but the truth is, I find that I thrive all by myself. Through my years of drifting in and out of friend groups, I realized that this is not the niche for everyone. In my experience, being a part of some feminine cluster has proven itself to be rather suffocating.

Here’s why.

Some people thrive in the company of others. Having people around on a constant basis can be entertaining, empowering, and inspiring, to say the least. You can always count on having someone by your side—whether you’re eating, studying, or even sleeping (if you’re lucky enough to be friends with your roommate). I always thought that being part of a clique was the ultimate friendship goal, that once you’re in, you’re in—and that would be all you need.

One redeeming feature of the “friend group” is the unspoken promise to do everything together. These activities are what solidify friendships, whether between two people or among six. There’s a guarantee to have a sidekick for every meal, during every workout, at every party. You need never worry about being alone—how comforting does that sound?

Now, I’m here to bring light to the concept of being “alone”. For example, we immediately take pity on people we see eating alone. Why is this? Maybe they just want to clear their heads. Maybe they want to focus on themselves for a moment. Maybe they want to have a peaceful meal. Why is it that these people are branded as “loners”? What is really so wrong with wanting to have a moment to ourselves?

The idea that we need to be surrounded by friends whenever possible is one that has been driven into our minds since we were extremely young. If you were an elementary school kid who didn’t have at least one best friend, you were a loser. In middle school, if you weren’t part of a clique, you were nearly guaranteed no friends in high school.

Perhaps, in younger years, people were not so kind about leaving you to your solitude. Perhaps they called you names or were intentionally exclusive. As you got older and approached the treacherous middle school years, people noticed if you didn’t belong to a “group” they sneered and sniffed and few were kind enough to include you, sincerely, in their own festivities.

Alternatively, maybe you spread yourself thin, drifting into and out of other people’s groups, but never truly fitting in with any one to the fullest extent.

In high school, the importance of the “friend group” was reinforced when it came time for some of the major social activities—such as choosing who was going to be in your limo or at your table for prom. It was survival of the fittest, and those who weren’t pulled to safety by their friend group were left stranded.

I was one of those people.

A cycle of deep, almost forced, acceptance into one group, followed by abrupt rejection, has gotten me thinking that not having a “friend group” isn’t a marker of social ineptitude—it simply means that not everyone is fit to be in the constant company of others.

If you find yourself a part of a group of people who just aren’t quite right for you, then getting out is made a lot more difficult. If drama breaks out—and you know it will—you’re either stuck in the middle or alienated from everyone else—then where are you going to go? I find that by spreading myself out among different people, I can look forward to something new each time I’m with them. If tension rises with one person, I’m not left hanging—I can always spend time with someone else or stay by myself for a bit. My entire world is not centered on the same few people, and I find that this makes for a much more spontaneous lifestyle—I never know what to expect sometimes, and I love that!

Up until this point, I was always worried that because I wasn’t part of a clique, I had basically no friends. I realize how ridiculous this is, as my world has been enriched by strong bonds with all sorts of people. I can show different sides of myself to different people and that’s what helps me learn about myself. There’s a saying that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So, it’s up to you: would you rather be the average of five of the same people, or five people of all different types?