I Am Not A Loner, I'm An Individual
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I Am Not A Loner, I'm An Individual

Who says one's a lonely number?


I remember last summer having a date night with myself: going out to a nice dinner at a place across from the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles before seeing a show, and being very concerned with the way waitresses looked at me with pity. Three separate waitresses came up to me asking me if I wanted more food or drink, and if I was having a nice day. Of course I was; I was having a "treat yourself" kind of day. There was absolutely nothing wrong, but the way the waitresses and other customers looked at me was unsettling.

I’ve always identified as a sort of "outsider," as silly and campy as it sounds. On the MBTI test, I float between introvert and extrovert, depending on the time of day. I’ve found myself never completely fitting into a defined friend group, but drifting in and out as I see fit. I do a lot of things on my own because I genuinely like to; I grab meals by myself while watching Youtube videos, I rent Zipcars to go to film screenings and plays featuring my favorite actors no one has heard of, and I like being alone with my own thoughts.

But I wouldn’t consider myself a "loner," nor would I like anyone else to label me as such. I'm not a "friendless weirdo" or a Hollywood-romanticized outsider.

It’s perfectly okay to go to events alone if you want to, and it's okay to be comfortable doing it. Those who prefer to have that table for one aren’t afraid of social contact, and others shouldn’t pity them. It’s easier said than done. But in my experience as a college student interested in so much that the world has to offer, why wait for others to join in? I’m not saying it’s no fun to have others join you for the ride; I’m saying that when you are by yourself, it may actually be more liberating to experience something quite literally one-on-one.

Christine Ling brings up a good point in her article "The Stigma of Doing Things Alone": that we should be able to spend alone-time outside of our bedrooms, our sweatpants, or our "Netflix and Chill" attitudes. Why not take yourself out on a date?

One thing I have learned in my three years of going to a liberal arts school is how to be in a group. There are groups going to dinner together, going to classes, studying for tests, carpooling to concerts and parties on the weekends. College is a highly cooperative space, where every day poses opportunities to meet new people. At Scripps especially, I smile and wave to at least a dozen people I know from classes and events, and I love that type of environment on most days.

The other great thing about college is the idea of independence. Being a thousand miles away from home in a new place is exciting to me, and I feel the need to explore everything on my own, and learn about myself in the process. That is the point of college, isn’t it?

But sometimes, all of the networking, socializing and exploring is exhausting. It’s exhausting for everyone at some point. We are social creatures, but we can’t all possibly handle constant company every hour of every day without time to recharge.

I find that in a world of distractions on screens and around college campuses, being able to branch out and take some time to explore the world on your own gives you a chance to think. Some of the most memorable and refreshing experiences I’ve had so far have been adventures on my own, that I would’ve stressed about otherwise had others been involved.

I go to some things alone because I don’t feel like anyone would enjoy what I go to, or would be inconvenienced if I asked. Safety is sometimes a concern, and in those cases I definitely ensure I bring friends with me. But with all of those worries aside, if I find myself in a future situation like at the restaurant last summer, I now feel confident in myself to know that I am taking time for me, and that that doesn't mean I'm "isolated" or "lonely."

The next time you consider having some time to yourself--whether that’s in your room, at a party, or in another city entirely--don’t think of yourself as being a "loner." You are an individual, who shouldn’t be afraid to stick your neck out in the world. Own it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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