“What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.” -Ellen Burstyn
Our generation is filled with people who are so afraid of being alone. It’s filled with people who don’t know how to be alone. We often think that solitude equates to loneliness, which is far from the truth.
In high school, I was scared of being alone too. In an environment that celebrates extroversion and deeply misconstrues the opposite, I struggled with my own introverted tendencies. I thought there was something wrong with me when I preferred to go home and read a book while my friends were going out and seemingly making the most of their high school lives.
I quickly learned that my time spent alone was putting me miles ahead of my peers. I gained wisdom and an understanding of myself and the world around me that was noticeable to others. Solitude gave me the opportunity to think, reason, and discover myself in ways that couldn’t be possible if I was constantly interacting with people. This doesn’t mean that I never go out and never socialize– it just means that I value alone-time and thrive during these periods.
There are so many benefits that come with being alone. Even if you’re an extrovert who may not need alone-time to recharge, learning how to spend time with yourself can improve your relationship with yourself and others. I’m here to teach you how alone-time can ultimately help you, and how to embrace it without fear.
Being Alone Built My Confidence
Here’s the thing, if you’re sitting in your bedroom or house alone, you have nobody to socialize with except your conscience. You can finally hear yourself think, and for some, this is scary. You learn who you really are when all of those external influences fall away.
Being alone forces you to accept yourself, quirks and all, because everyone wants to enjoy their company.
It won’t happen immediately, but the more you get to spend time with yourself, the more you’ll become comfortable in your own skin. Your worst critic is yourself, and if you can please that one, your confidence will skyrocket. As a result, people will gravitate more to you simply because of your positive demeanor.
The nights in high school that I spent alone, I became more and more me. I learned what being an introvert meant and that it was okay to be one. I dove headfirst into creative adventures, and I was amazed by the many talents and strengths that presented themselves to me. I’m much more confident in my abilities. I love hanging out with myself because my own thoughts and revelations make me a very entertaining companion.
When you learn to appreciate yourself, the self that comes from the inside and isn’t influenced by your peers, you have won life.
There is nothing you can’t do when you reach a deep level of self-awareness and allow it to manifest externally.
This is important especially if you’re going into college for the first time. I expanded on the significance of self-awareness and how it relates to your next 4 years of college here.
I Stopped Being Reliant On Others for Happiness
Fact: You will never be lonely if you know how to be alone.
I have lots of friends who can’t stand being by themselves for more than a few hours. If they are, they feel friendless and become miserable.
This kind of lifestyle isn’t sustainable. Unless you force your friends to abandon their lives and stay in a giant house with you, at some point or another you will be left alone.
If you know how to entertain yourself, you will never have to be reliant on others’ presence for your happiness again.
Friends are amazing to have and to be around, but they have their own stuff going on. They won’t always be accessible to you.
I stopped listening to the voice in my mind that told me I wasn’t a “normal” teenager if I wasn’t constantly surrounded by my peers.
I stopped feeling the need to fit in. I never succumbed to peer pressure because I wasn’t desperate for friendship.
This allowed me to form quality relationships instead of worrying about the quantity.
If you’re someone who is a serial dater (gets in relationships after just leaving one), or always needs social interaction to feel whole, I seriously recommend practicing being alone. You’ll be so much happier once you realize that you can be whole on your own.
I Became Smarter and More Creative
Statistically, you work better alone. Without the judgement of your peers or social pressure to conform, you are likely to become more creative. You’re free to discover and try new things. And, if you mess up? No one is watching! Boredom breeds creativity, and when you’re alone, you will get bored. That’s when you really start to have fun. One day I was bored, so I started playing piano again. I drew cool stuff, I wrote, I started a blog.
I was able to tap into a reserve of creativity that I had no idea was hiding there.
“People who do a job that claims to be creative have to be alone to recharge their batteries. You can’t live 24 hours a day in the spotlight and remain creative. For people like me, solitude is a victory.” -Karl Lagerfeld
I also found myself becoming smarter. When you’re interacting with someone, you’re taking in so much information, but you don’t really get to process it. When I got time to myself, I could analyze and notice so much more about my surroundings.
You will gain a perspective that is like looking in on the world from the outside.
You’ll be able to make strong decisions and judgements from a logical standpoint rather than letting circumstances control you.
You’d be surprised how much your brain can do without the distraction of others’ presence and own ideas.
How to Be Alone
Now that you’re sold (hopefully), you’re probably wondering how you can maximize the benefits of your alone-time. I’m going to discuss some of the things I like to do when I’m alone. That being said, I encourage you to come up with your own activities and do things that you love because that’s the best way to grow.
Disclaimer: Don’t become a hermit. You do still need to go outside, and social interaction is important. Just to clarify.
Read Substantial Books:
Lately I’ve been interested in self-help and Philosophy books. I’ve started to stray away from fiction books because they can get repetitive especially in the Young Adult genre. Instead of switching between Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat every 3 seconds, I try (keyword being try) to pick up a book instead. Books are hands down better sources to build up your brain than social media. Find ones that will challenge you in some way (intellectually, emotionally, etc).
Start a New Project:
I am the master of starting new things and abandoning them. That’s okay, though. I still learn a lot in the process even if I don’t quite get to the end. Start projects, dive headfirst in them, and enjoy every moment. Find out what you love, and what you’re not so good at. You’ll discover and build your strengths here.
Have a Sense of Adventure:
Let yourself get bored, then battle the boredom. I mean, come on. We have the world at our fingertips, you can learn anything, do anything, and be anything all by yourself. If you’re bored for more than an hour, you’re not doing life right. Social Tip: If you bore yourself you probably bore other people. So once you learn how to be interesting on your own, people will find you interesting too.
People often use their alone-time to simply chill out. This is an effective way to rebuild your energy and sense of balance. Watch Netflix, take a nap, have a luxurious bath, or journal. Take part in activities that center and calm you.
Go Out By Yourself:
This is probably the scariest part of learning how to be alone. Going to events by yourself can make you feel a little awkward and a little self-conscious. You might think that everyone notices that you’re alone, but in reality nobody cares. Go to a movie or café by yourself. You might meet new people who you would otherwise have never gotten to talk to if your friends were around.
In a society thats full of people who fear themselves, I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. I challenge you to unabashedly become your best friend, to love who you are inside and out. Do something different. What is life worth if it’s spent doing what literally everyone else is doing? Remember, being alone is not lonely if you enjoy the company you’re with.
Cherish being alone, because that’s where you are truly free.
So, tell me: How do you like to spend time alone? Let me know in the comments!