From a young age, I was taught that socializing with others was important. My parents would arrange playdates, I would attend block parties and it seemed like I was never alone. Building social skills at a young age is a valuable skill and I do not regret being exposed to socialization.
However, as I grew up, I became uncomfortable being alone with myself.
I asked myself questions like “Why don’t I have as many friends as they do?” or “How come I have no one to hang out with?.” Once middle school came around, my parents were no longer there to set up playdates. I wasn’t invited to as many parties or friends’ houses. I encountered “FOMO” for the first time: the fear of missing out.
At first, I found being alone depressing. I thought I was a loner or in some way problematic. I assumed everyone, except me, was hanging out with other people.
Once the awkward middle school years had passed, I came to the realization that having alone time can be just as valuable as being around other people.
Being alone is not necessarily a poor reflection of you. As we grow up, it’s natural for people to have busier schedules and be unable to hang out at the same time. The more we grow up, the more people we meet, and that is okay. While I may have been “BFFs” with only one person in elementary school, adulthood taught me that I am not someone else’s only friend and they are not limited to just spending time with me.
Alone time allowed me to find out who I was and what I enjoyed. When you’re alone, no one is there to judge your choices or likes and dislikes. You can try out new hobbies, explore new places and eat new foods without being judged or having to accommodate someone else’s interests.
Although spending time with others is enjoyable, being alone has its perks. It taught me independence and gave me the opportunity to discover more about myself. To this day, I do not think I would be the same person I am today if I had not learned how to be okay with being alone.