Being alone is scary. Being seen alone is even more terrifying because of the negative associations and social stigma society has attached to solitude. Learning how to be alone, however, is also essential to becoming an adult.
After all, adulting is a time when most people learn to be independent, take care of themselves, and grow as a person. How can we learn about who we are if we are so dependent on others for social validation? I find that I go through the most interesting and insightful thought processes when I am alone in the shower or lounging around in the sun with absolutely no one else to distract my thoughts.
My desire to be alone is not often openly echoed by my friends and peers. But, as a self-proclaimed ambivert, I can recognize the merits of social relationships while simultaneously cherishing the value of alone time.
I don’t call my parents often because I personally don’t feel the need to (but that’s okay if you like to!). I generally prefer studying alone. I disappear from time to time just to take a breather for myself. Sometimes, I even go to the Claremont village and eat alone when I’m craving Thai food or bubble tea.
And yet, I’m still often faced with stares and questioning comments when I recount my experiences. “You went by yourself? That’s kind of sad,” my friends will say. But for me, it’s not sad.
I believe that learning to be alone — sometimes, but not all the time — is so important; it’s a form of self-service, one where I only need to have my own desires and choices in mind.
Perhaps my friends’ comments stem from associating the act of being alone with loneliness, but I certainly don’t think those two things should be synonymous with each other. Loneliness in itself is an integral part of adulting. Through being lonely, we can reflect on our experiences, feelings, and relationships with retrospection.
I know there will come a time when I’ll find myself not knowing what to do, where to go, or who to talk to. And when that time comes, I’ll be grateful I can appreciate being alone, because being alone is inescapable in the realm of adulting.