How to Love Being Alone

What is it with this generation and our embarrassment at being alone?

Most of the time when we walk around in public, we have our heads in our phones, either checking our Instagram feeds or texting our friends. I don’t know about everyone, but I used to do this a lot because I felt awkward when I had nothing to do or no one to talk to in public. While I try to avoid this habit, there are still many people with such tendencies. I have a friend that seems to loathe being alone in a public space so much so that every time I tell her to meet me somewhere, she will do everything in her power to arrive there after me to make sure no one thinks she’s just lingering around the campus aimlessly all on her own.

Photo via Unsplash

 

I, however, stopped doing this when I realized that as we grow older, learning to love being alone is going to eventually become an essential component of understanding how to be a self-sufficient, confident and independent person. This is a lesson that the sooner one learns, the easier their life will get. I believe that learning to embrace being alone and independent, to a certain degree, is something that will come in handy as we grow older. And what better place to learn how to be alone than at university; walking to classes alone, spending lectures by ourselves and even sitting down for a meal with a book, by ourselves (gasp).

 

Now, in no way am I trying to insinuate that being alone is better than socializing because I perfectly understand the significance of having friends; in fact, I consider my closest friends as irreplaceable family members. By now the need for a sense of belonging is a psychological fact known as affiliation motivation that if not fulfilled has the power to cause serious mental and physical side effects. In fact, I’m sure most of us can agree that having friends — people who we can trust, share a laugh with and experience new things with — is an incomparable feeling.

Photo by Simon Maage

 

However, we also need to acknowledge that everything in life is temporary; relationships and friendships fade and are then of course replaced with new ones but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to learn to be alone.

 

In general, I think that people underestimate how much they can learn about themselves if they just spent some time with themselves. As fun as a loud laugh and some fries to share with a friend can be, sitting down somewhere for a hot cup of coffee and a good book on a Friday, a calm Saturday night with a face mask and some wine, or a walk in the park with some music on a Tuesday evening is also good company.

Photo by Roberto Nickson

 

I believe, at one point or another, we should all experience living in an apartment alone, eating breakfast by ourselves as well as spending some time appreciating being single. Frankly, I think that it’s quite empowering to understand and appreciate that after all, the one person that’s guaranteed to stick with us ’til the end is ourselves. How else are we gonna really know who we are? I wish people understood that  learning to be alone does not mean learning to be lonely.