The Importance of Alone Time

The Importance of Alone Time

Alone is not a dirty word. Alone is empowering.
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I love being alone. I love spending time by myself, allowing me the freedom of doing things on my own terms. As I write this, I sit in a coffee shop with my computer, earbuds in to give off the "please don't approach me" vibe. I don't dislike people by any means-- I value the time I spend with my loved ones. But there's just something special about being by myself that I hold really dear. Being alone, while kind of a drag at times, is very important to my sense of self.

I've always been sort of a loner. As a kid, I would get overwhelmed if I was in a big group for too long and would lock myself in my bedroom upon getting home. I needed to be away from people for a while or I would surely explode. As I got older, I lost the ability to be alone due to all of my commitments. During my time at a local community college, I was constantly surrounded by people. Between my daily classes, lunches with friends, study groups, rehearsals and family time, I was exhausted. I kept wondering why I was so irritable and overwhelmed all the time. There came a time toward the end of my second semester of college where I was so overwhelmed that I went straight home from school instead of out with my sister or friends as I usually did and locked myself in my room. I slept, read and watched Netflix. The next day, I felt far more relaxed. I wondered if the time spent by myself could have anything to do with my renewed energy, so I decided to do an experiment. I spent the next several nights at home alone and was amazed at how much better I felt. My anxiety was lessened and I was better able to articulate my needs to my family and friends.

I would eventually learn that this need for solitude is called being an introvert-- my energy comes from alone time, and being around people tends to wear me out. Many people use the terms "introvert" and "loner" synonymously, incorrectly thinking that introverts just hate people or don't fit in. This is not true. People who are introverted simply need time away to recharge. I think that nearly everyone can benefit from some quality time by themselves-- including extroverts!

I have gotten flack from friends and family for spending so much time by myself. My sister would call me on her lunch break at work and ask what I was doing. I would tell her that I was out shopping or in a coffee shop and she would immediately ask who I was with. She was baffled upon hearing that I was there by myself! "Why are you alone?" is a question I got from her and other friends frequently. The word "alone" has become a dirty word in our people-centered society: being alone in public is embarrassing to some people. I don't see it that way. I see the choice to be alone as something powerful.

Being able to be alone is important to me, and I have grown a lot since I began to take myself places. I've learned to be less rigid about sticking to a plan-- several times, I have quickly turned off of the road while driving to stop at a place I hadn't seen before. I spent time in nature and made the decision as to when I wanted to leave and go home. I was more independent than I had ever been. This not only improved my time spent by myself but made it easier for me to make decisions and articulate what I want while spending time with other people. I am more confident in my choices and more willing to try new things. Overall, I am a more relaxed person now that I have learned how to be alone.

I value my loved ones very much. I spend time with my family and go out with my friends when I can. But being alone has proven to be a healthy thing for me to do, and it could benefit you too. Next time you feel overwhelmed or irritated at others, take some time to yourself. Go to that new little bistro you've been wanting to try. Walk around a store by yourself. Go on a drive or a hike. Do something you love to clear your head. You are the most reliable and readily available person to yourself. You can hear yourself much better when there are fewer people around.

Cover Image Credit: Ali Kaukas

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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You May Be In College, But Positive Reinforcement Is Still Essential For A Better Life

It's truly amazing to see how positive reinforcement, especially from a professor or someone who works in your chosen field, can boost your confidence.

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Being a freshman in college is tough, and I'm absolutely positive that I'm not the first person to say that. For me, the biggest adjustments came with being far from home, having to make brand new friends, and actually figuring out what I want to do with my life. Now, those first two items were not that difficult to find solutions to, but that last one? That is a completely different story.

In the span of six-seven months, I have gone back and forth, again and again with just about every combination of majors and minors that you could think of. At this moment, I think I've finally found a combination that will truly push me to succeed in my goals. By the end of next semester, I'm hopeful that I will be able to declare my major and minors.

But, the point of this article is to share the point in this current semester, where I really believed that my goals can become a reality. Right now, I am enrolled in a course called "introduction to critical intelligence studies." After much debate with the class, our professor decided to put our midterm online, making it a take-home exam. It consisted of a few multiple choice questions and three essays of our choosing. With the idea that this exam was take-home, I knew that my professor would be expecting us to put our best foot forward and all of our time and effort into making sure we did well.

And I did. This was the first midterm result that I got back and it was a 100. How did I find this out? For one day, instead of class, my professor met with each of us individually for at least ten minutes to discuss what we were hoping to get out of this class. It was during this meeting that she told me my grades and more.

My professor had explained to me that based on my writing, she did not think that I was just a mere freshman. She continued to say that I have a knack for analysis, as well as the fact that it was truly evident that I took in all the information from her lectures and the assigned readings. With my grades in mind and what I hoped to do in the future, my professor assured me that I should have no problem accomplishing my goals. My professor made sure that I had confidence in myself and my abilities, providing me with even more steps that would lead to success.

It's truly amazing to see how positive reinforcement, especially from a professor or someone who works in your chosen field, can boost your confidence. This reinforcement has provided me with the means and opportunity to further push myself. Since this meeting, I have been in constant contact with my professor to learn about different opportunities that can build up my resume. With her help, as well as the director of the program, I've been able to learn more about anything and everything that has to do with intelligence.

I'm proud to say that I want to go into such a field. And I'm also proud to say that I'm thankful for everyone who has decided to push me and not only celebrate my successes — but also to help me learn from my mistakes.

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