How to Be Okay With Being Alone

How To Do Things By Yourself - And Be Okay With It

Many people can think of nothing more intimidating than doing things alone in public spaces. It's about time to change the way we think about what it means to be alone.

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Far too often, people can make it seem as if doing things on your own is downright terrible. I'm especially guilty of patronizing others in this way, myself. When getting food with a group of my friends at the University's dining hall, I recall seeing another one of my friends getting food too by chance. In our small talk, I proceeded to ask them who they had come to the dining hall with, to which they replied "No one." In an instinctual response, I gave a frown of pity and said "Aw, by yourself? That sucks!". Thankfully, my friend just shrugged, and we proceeded to talk, but almost immediately, I realized how thoughtless it was of me to have said that. In expressing pity for my friend about them being alone at the dining hall, a state in which college students frequently find themselves, I contributed to the supposed shame around being alone that society perpetuates with the same tired narratives.

But what's that all about, anyway? Why is it that when we see people, whether it's the girl who goes to eat at a restaurant by herself or the man at the movie theater with empty seats on either side of him, we tend to judge them? It seems as if we project our own fears of being alone (particularly the negative feelings of loneliness and lack of companionship that isolation indicates), onto the realities of others. Effectively, being alone isn't the bad part, it's looking alone that turns us off. There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting and enjoying the company of others. But needing them to feel accepted doesn't make them your friends; it makes them your crutch.

Being alone, or doing things by yourself, is really not groundbreaking at all. My favorite thing to remind myself of when I begin to feel worried about what others might be thinking of me being alone in public is a simple fact that nobody really cares. No one is going to be thinking of me, saying "Wow, that girl who was eating by herself in the dining hall is surely an unlovable outcast!". That's incredibly unrealistic, right? And even if they do say or think this, we can reason that they feel this way about being alone because they couldn't fathom the thought of being by themselves, which is much more telling about their own personal insecurities.

To put it simply, you are all you have. Friends can make wonderful conversation and companions can make activities much more fun, but there is a freedom that comes with doing things on your own. Is eating food alone at a time when it's convenient for you so bad? Is seeing that movie by yourself that you really wanted to see so bad? No, it's not bad at all, nor is it badass. People aren't cool because they comfortably do things alone. They've simply recognized the power that comes from embracing your own person.

So please, don't let anyone shame you for venturing out there alone. Know that you don't need anyone else in order to do the things you want to do, even if society makes you feel like you do. Go out and be great, all by yourself.
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