Other generations love to make comments about millennials. We use our phones too much. We’re lazy. We don’t know how to communicate. We can’t read a clock. We’re self-absorbed. To them, we’re truly the worst.

But these critics seem to miss millennials' greatest flaw. And shockingly enough, it has nothing to do with our cell phones, or entitlement.

Millennials today are suffering from a plague. Not one that will kill thousands of people or wipe the generation clean, but one that is possibly just as irreparable. We are suffering from an internal plague, one that infects us in our teenage years and continues to haunt us afterwards.

We are all terrified of loneliness.

All of us.

Mere thoughts of certain actions that will result in loneliness make many of us cringe.

Sitting alone in the dining hall.

Staying in alone on the weekend instead of going out, but having to see everyone’s posts.

Breaking up with someone who you love but is toxic for you.

Dropping a friend who drains you of positivity.

Why do these things freak us out so much? All of us have eaten a meal alone at home, but why suddenly, once we reach college, does lunchtime loneliness become a depressing time of solitude.

I’ve watched so many people choose against going to the dining hall for the sole reason of not wanting to eat alone. Why? Eat when you’re hungry. Your meals are for you and they don’t always have to be a social gathering.

In terms of not going out on the weekends, who says a night in by yourself has to be any less enjoyable? Whether you chose not to go out yourself, or your friends decided not to invite you that night, your time alone is YOUR time. You don’t have to share it with anyone, which is rare for many of us.

Of course, not getting invited somewhere doesn’t feel good. But it’s not the end of the world. Often times if you’re not invited somewhere, it’s not because of something malicious. And if it is, then use your night alone to do some reflecting on the people you’re surrounding yourself with.

Nights alone can teach you so much about yourself. It truly is your time and no one else’s. Blast the music that you actually like, not the stuff you play when other people are around. Catch up on stuff you’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t been able to-- like finishing a book, continuing a Netflix show, painting your nails, or finally finding some time to journal. Do some self reflection.

It’s way more beneficial to use your time alone to better yourself, than to let yourself get caught up with the scary word of “loneliness.”

The kind of lonely that I see most people my age absolutely petrified by is the single lonely. The longing for a partner, or the fear of terminating a relationship haunts people my age. Most relationships, but of course not all, have become obsessive and possessive. We crave having someone by our side who we can pour energy into.

An SO reduces time spent lonely by a drastic amount. You’ll always have someone to text, someone to get lunch with, and someone to spend nights-in with if you are in a relationships.

But none of these factors should stop you from breaking up with a toxic partner.

Don’t settle for less or put up with bullshit just because you’re not going to “know how to be alone” once you break up. The fear of being lonely stops so many people my age from ending truly toxic relationships. Once someone mistreats you and starts making your days worse than they need to be, leave them and be your own person.

The same goes with friendships. Who cares if you have a smaller group of friends? Don’t let people treat you poorly just to avoid some time alone.

There’s a lot that can be learned about yourself once you spend some time alone. Time alone doesn’t have to be sad, so let’s remove that stigma from the idea of being alone. There are more productive ways to be lonely.