Alone time is healthy and needed. When I graduated from Dartmouth College in 2015, before I walked across the stage, I drove across the country, from Hanover, New Hampshire to Greenwood, Mississippi, where I was going to be on a two-year teaching contract, and I didn’t know anyone. A very different sort of “not know anyone”, from being at a party without a friend, or in a class without familiar faces. There wasn’t anyone within 200 miles of me that I’ve ever met before. The chocolate bars I always carried in my car melted in a dark puddle, people kept calling me “ma’am”, and the waitress at Waffle House looked at me funny when I told her I wanted unsweetened tea. After a long day of moving, I googled the main bar in town, and drove there. I made friends and found community, but I also found plenty of evenings sitting alone at the bar. A lot of times, we forget to love ourselves. We get so busy and caught up catering to everyone else’s needs and wants, we neglect ourselves. The best relationship that we can have, is honestly with ourselves first.
Here are three reasons to start enjoying your own company and doing things solo sometimes:
- You become more self-conscious. Generally, we consider feeling self-conscious a bad thing. It’s your cheeks flushing, sweating through the shirt you picked out to wear, wondering if you should introduce yourself or scroll through your phone like you’re waiting for someone. But when you go somewhere, you don’t have a history or any connections, you become more aware of the way you talk, your actions and your mannerisms. People don’t have an obligation to say hello, much less have a conversation, and you’re not staying just because your friend wants you to.
You might feel awkward, but you are forced to think about what you want.
2. You pay more attention to the people around you. At first you might be acutely aware of everyone around you in deep conversation. Then, you start noticing the people who are out together, but not talking. The ones who keep looking down to check their phones, the ones who stare off into space or those who constantly glance towards the door. When you finally do strike up a conversation with someone, you listen intently because listening is less awkward than sitting alone watching other people talk. You listen better because you’re slightly too uncomfortable to brew assumptions of the same strength that you would, if you were sitting in the middle of a group of your friends.
3. You burst your bubble. We get into patterns and habits, and before we know it, we’re not making choices daily, so much as defaulting to the same people and places as the months before. This makes us feel normal. We’re not in a position where we must talk to strangers or sit alone, and while this is comfortable, it is also protected. There is something refreshing about the awareness and awkwardness that comes when you step outside of your bubble. I recommend it. Choose a place you’ve never been to, turn your phone on silent, and see how you feel after a couple of hours. Sometimes, you can be your own best company, and the alone time to reflect and recharge, is always needed.