"If you don't know how to be alone, you don't know who you are."
- Jonathan Franzen
Just last night, I've realized how much I enjoy being alone.
I arrived back to the apartment from my night class slightly burnt-out but mostly content. My roommates were cooking dinner and playing Just Dance. They asked if I wanted to join, and I politely declined, lingering to talk to them all before returning to my room to go through my usual night routine: change into pj's, unpack my backpack, straighten my room, wash my face, brew some tea, meditate, and read. My door was shut, but I could still hear my roommates laughing and jumping around.
Part of me, the part that at one point hated being alone, told myself to go out and socialize. Being alone had just begun giving me a nervous twitch.
But the other part of me who had overcome that fear, stayed in my room. It was 10:30 pm and I normally go to bed by 11 pm to get enough sleep prior to my busy Wednesday schedule. I went to sleep on time, drifting off peacefully, happily, and alone.
Having my own evening and morning routines, talking aloud to my cat more than one should, dancing with myself in my apartment bedroom, finding my spot at the coffee shop with a book and a latte and plugging in my headphones so that no one bothers me are all things that I love doing, and because of my history of dealing with loneliness, this is exceptionally weird.
A year ago, I struggled with being by myself. My own thoughts didn’t feel like my own.
Entering my freshman year of college, I made as many friends as possible and constantly hung around anyone I could so that I wouldn’t be forced to be alone in my dorm. If I couldn’t find anyone to eat at a dining hall with me, then I simply wouldn’t go. If my roommate was gone, I’d knock on my hallmate’s doors.
But of course, sometimes I had to be alone. Every now and again, late at night, I was forced to dwell in the darkness that overshadowed my dorm room, and I’d lie on my bed, unsure of what to do with myself. I’d look in the mirror and feel unfamiliar with who was staring back at me.
Seemingly unnoticeable (around when the summer before apartment life arrived), I began to change. I began to go grocery shopping on my own and... like it? I’d grab a bite to eat or a coffee and sit in my car or even go inside to enjoy it, either with a book or not. When friends canceled plans last minute on days when I couldn’t catch a break, I’d find myself sighing with relief because that meant I could be alone and could recharge at peace.
And I haven’t become antisocial. No, no. That’s not the case at all.
In fact, I don’t recall having so many friends at one point in my life at ALL. Just last week, a group of book-loving yogis magically appeared at my table at the coffee shop and asked to join me. I said yes, and BAM: friends.
(Attracting is the best, I'm telling ya.)
I suppose this is me simply learning to be my own, independent person—becoming my OWN best friend. Reading books for me, posting for me, working out for me, going to bed early for me. I’ve understood more and more about myself, such as what books I really like to read, what hobbies I truly enjoy doing, and how much I actually dislike chicken noodle soup and spaghetti. I’ve developed real opinions, true friends, and have learned how to have fun on my own.
And this is all because I’ve figured out how to not only be alone but to LOVE every moment of it.
Why it is a good thing to be alone
Especially as a young adult, people feel inclined to go out, get up, and socialize. ”Meet friends, join organizations, live with people you know, talk to people in your classes!” My university seems to scream at me. Freshman year, I took all this to heart and carried it with me, developing the fear that I wasn't doing enough if I wasn't in every club and every social group, therefore never having a chance to be alone.
I’m at a time of my life where I’m supposed to figure myself out, but I've figured out that doing so shouldn’t be through other people. By joining so many groups, I had seemed to lose myself.
Being alone gives one a sense of clarity and a feeling of independence, which young adults need. We need to learn how to make ourselves happy, as well as make our own decisions. We should know what we want out of life without having to go to others for advice all the time. And we should never use others for our source of happiness.
So... why is it a good thing to be alone?
Well, being alone has been known to increase one’s happiness, social life, independence, improve creativity and confidence, while also decreasing the chance for anxiety and depression.
We are meant to have our own lives, our own thoughts. And to me, being alone is another form of mindfulness. By listening to my own music or flowing thoughts, not constantly having to smile, listen, respond intelligently, or come up with small banter at the top of my head, I can use the extra mental energy to really pay attention to what’s around me and get more done.
How to LOVE being alone
1. Choose your spot
There are a few spots around my college campus that I love, such as a cornered, awfully hippie coffee shop, the campus Starbucks, and even just my apartment bedroom, in the company of myself, staring out the two windows that surround me there. There's even a singular seat in the back of the bus I find myself longing to visit. In these spots, I can truly be with myself, and I feel most comfortable.
Choose a spot, and make it yours.
2. Keep a journal for when you need to get something out (or maybe start a blog?)
I love journaling, attending to my morning pages practice nearly every morning. I find this practice a place for me to talk to myself without being weird, connecting with my thoughts and emotions and learning to lean on myself.
Sometimes, I realize I have wisdom that I'd like to share, which is when I write blog posts. I find blogging just as therapeutic.
3. Figure out what makes YOU happy
When I was constantly around people, I forgot what made ME happy. Over time, I've found that long kitty snuggles, nighttime drives, really great movies, and books, and cleaning (yes, really) are all things that I love to do. I slightly knew this before, but now I can put these likes into action.
I make alone time MY time.
4. Start a new hobby that you do whenever you’re alone
I've also uncovered just how much I enjoy reading, having already read 4 books (nearly 5) in 2020 alone. I carve time out of each day to read, an hour in the morning and in the evening before bed. Doing this, as well as choosing each book I want to read based on what I like to read, I feel more and more like an independent person.
I also look forward to being alone more often.
5. Be a good friend, text people back, and don’t close people out
There's a difference between becoming your own best friend and ignoring everyone else.
I made this mistake.
Continue to text your friends and family, or even better, get out of the house and socialize with them to strengthen those bonds. By doing this, you'll feel more comfortable spending time alone -- you can feel assured that there are still people in your life who you can go to, and who go to you.
6. Don’t confuse being alone with loneliness
Just because you're alone, you don't have to be lonely. Look at alone-time as a way to benefit and better yourself. It's a time for personal growth and self-love. The moment you look at alone-time in a negative light, it'll all come crashing down. Read more on this topic here.
If you are truly lonely, even after accomplishing the other tips, make sure to reach out to the wonderful people in your life. You're never truly alone.
Or, perhaps it is a sign that it's time to make new friends/love yourself a little more.
7. Tap or say affirmations to release your fear of being alone
For about a week now, I've started tapping every day. I either tap on manifesting money, friends, miracles, or even releasing certain fears. I watch a Brad Yates video in my room or excuse myself to the restroom to tap in a stall.
Doing this has helped me tremendously, and has even helped me attract more money, miracles, and people into my life!
To read more on tapping, read this post.
8. Use your alone time wisely — stay away from your phone and social media.
There were a few instances when I'd go to my room and prepare for an evening or just a few hours alone... and then I'd pull out my phone. I'd text people back, start various conversations, or worse, I'd scroll and scroll and scroll on social media.
Social media, especially, would cause me to rethink being alone. I would compare myself to others and feel the need to go out with friends.
When consumed by your phone, you're not truly alone--you're still communicating with the world.
Use your me-time to put away distractions and be fully present with yourself and your thoughts. It'll do wonders!
As I’m writing this now, I am alone. And I have never felt so safe, so comfortable. Away from my phone, possible distractions, I am here, getting things done.
If you’re scared to be alone, then don’t worry—I’ve been there, and I’ve gotten out of it. Of course, I’m not perfect, and still call my boyfriend or text a friend in times of need (which is totally okay—in fact, it’s important to ask for help sometimes), but at least, I can confidently say, that I am my own best friend. :)
What do you do when you’re alone? Do you enjoy it, or would you like to enjoy it more? Let me know in the comments!