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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

For years, the idea of being “alone” has been a fear in the back of my mind. As a child growing up, my reasoning was that if you were alone, you were a social outcast. I hated standing by myself at parties, glued to the wall. I hated even those brief moments before a school dance when I would have to wait for a friend to get there, my eyes desperately flitting around to catch them in the crowd. Those moments of aloneness where it was me and my anxious thoughts were difficult to get through. As I grew up, I was learning from my friends and peers that being alone was associated with something horrible. Phrases like, “Look at that loner! or, “Ew, why are they sitting by themselves at lunch?” were the types that circulated around me. For years, I went on thinking that the moments you were alone in public were moments you were exposed. Bare. Anyone could pick you apart because there weren’t any others around you to cushion you and prove your worth.

Coming to college was a drastic change. I felt like my social battery always had to be on. Freshman year I was meeting new people left and right, and it did wonders for the extrovert in me. I was brought out of my shell, attended dozens of club meetings, participated in dozens of icebreakers (two truths and a lie at least ten times), and pushed past my comfort zone. College was a doozy, in a good way. But one of the key lessons I learned was: you don’t have to be surrounded by people all the time.

Of course, it’s always phenomenal to hang out with a group of friends and have a good time, or even grab lunch and catch up with a friend. However, now I notice that there are times in my life where I want to be by myself. I crave stillness and silence and I want to be in my own bedroom, doing work silently or meditating or journaling or reading a book. I have to often keep reminding myself that it’s okay to take a walk around campus by yourself to get some air, or go to the dining hall by yourself to get some food. It was tough in the beginning to change my mind about this aloneness, but sometimes being by yourself is so vital. It recharges you, revitalizes you, and centers you.

I also found that being alone particularly at night is the time I’m the most creative. Creativity does love company, but when I’m starting a new project, I find that my own voice is the only one I need to listen to, and that voice only comes out when I’m by myself and I have the space and quiet to think.

What I mean by this is not that you should hole away in your apartment and spend all your time alone to receive inner clarity. Everything is good little by little. I love my friends and the people in my life, and spending time with them is always so rewarding. The key is to listen to the little voice inside you. When you want some you time, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with stepping back and closing that door for a little bit. Only when you’re away from the buzz of the world will you ground yourself and remind yourself to be authentic, free from influence and others’ magnetism.

So abandon all the thoughts you have about the negativity of being alone once in a while. Take yourself on a nice downtown walk to enjoy the scenery. Grab food from the dining hall alone, because that is okay. Give yourself permission to breathe and reacquaint yourself with yourself. Be inspired by your solitude.

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Rachel Prince

U Mass Amherst '22

Rachel Prince is a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is part of the Honors College, majoring in Neuroscience with the hope of becoming a doctor later in life. She loves playing the piano, creative writing, singing, and riding her bike at sunset. When she is not busy hanging out with her friends, she is planning out her next roadtrip, creating smoothie recipes, or trying to a find a new book to read.
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