As much as colleges seem to tell its students how individual they are, how important their personalities and qualities are, it also gives the impression that should you choose to keep your individual to yourself, you’re just being selfish.
“Join this club!”
“This club needs you!”
“Be a member of this club or else you’re lame and have no purpose and no one will hire you for a job ever.”
I like being alone. A lot. Not that I want to be alone forever – I’ve experienced days upon days (upon weeks) of alone-ness and if not carefully executed/monitored, alone-ness can turn into loneliness, and that’s a detrimental island.
But, back home I’d beg my mother to let me run an errand for her just so I could drive to the store by myself sometimes. Even a drive to Costco and back was enough to make me happy. And living on my own in Phoenix has shown me the comfort in being alone as well: walking here and there, running errands, shopping alone, people-watching alone. It calms me.
To be alone: “having no one else present; on one’s own”. That’s important, I’ve come to realize. It’s vital, even.
My freshman year of college I had a roommate mix-up at the start of the year and for the first half of the semester I had no roommate. My new friends asked, “Don’t you get lonely?” or “Don’t you want someone to talk to?” But the answers were always no. I had them, after all. I hung out with them, ate with them, laughed with them. But when I went back to my room, it was like my sanctuary. And I can’t wait for that sanctuary to come again. To walk into a place that was waiting for you to come back, just you. Maybe pat a dog’s head on the way in, cook myself dinner, pour myself a glass of wine and just be.
We’re surrounded by people every day – people we know, people we don’t. We fake smile at tens of people every day, tell people, “I’m great! How are you?” on our crappiest of days. We clothespin smiles to our faces every day. Then go out into the world and throw our energies at people, constantly, as we listen to them, or talk to them, work with them, smile at them. We wade through people all day. But when you can be alone, you can finally take those clothespins off your cheeks. You can smile for real, or frown if you want to. You can sigh, you can cry, you can scream. You can breathe. It’s just you and yourself. You’re the focus when you’re alone. No more pandering to others or putting on a front. It’s about you.
Being alone is necessary. And it’s okay to be alone or to want to be. Sometimes I’d feel weird about liking the idea of being by myself because college bombards you with pictures of friends hanging out, walking in pairs. Everyone (or what seems like everyone) is going to parties and if they aren’t, they’re always doing something, being movers and shakers. And all that is fun and and should be taken advantage of and it has its place. But so does being with yourself. It’s then that you listen to what’s in your own head. Too much time around others can drown out who you are. It’s in the silence that you acquaint yourself with yourself.
My favorite thing about parties (next to a few other things…) was being a tad bit intoxicated, but putting my key in my apartment door, locking it behind me, then walking to my room, closing the door, and laying on my bed, looking up at the ceiling. There, while the remnants of my time with others fades, the memories will play in my head, but I don’t have to talk about them; there’s no more buzzing in my ears. I could just close my eyes and be, feel the moment, feel the sheets, feel myself with no one else present, but me.