I used to get extremely bad panic attacks when I was alone, especially if my friends weren’t even answering my texts. The idea of doing something by myself terrified me to the point of tears, and I was constantly surrounding myself with the wrong people because, at the time, I believed it was better than being by myself. However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I no longer hate being alone—in fact, I actually prefer it most of the time.
People can be exhausting. I’m sure that I can be exhausting as well, but constantly being around other people is emotionally and physically draining for me. It’s hard because most of the people I would surround myself with are people who expect me to be upbeat and energetic when that’s only a part of my personality. Space is essential for our minds and bodies to recharge, and this is especially true for me.
I don’t have to work around anyone’s schedule but my own. Instead of refusing to do things unless I had company to join me (like I used to do in the past), I now plan what it is I want to do and if one of my friends or boyfriend wants to come along, then great. If not, that’s fine too. I don’t fit my life into other people’s schedules anymore—I base my life on my own schedule.
I’m more confident and comfortable with myself. I used to need constant attention and interaction to feel validated and “happy,” but now that I’ve become more confident in who I am as a person, I don’t need constant communication with other people to be mentally and emotionally stable. In fact, sometimes I need to take a break from any communication with other people in order to stay sane.
Being alone pushes me out of my comfort zone and introduces me to people I never would’ve met otherwise. Being constantly surrounded by a group of friends limits the chances of meeting new friends when you’re out and about. When you do things alone, like a yoga class or spending a Sunday afternoon at the coffee shop, you’re more approachable than you would be if you had a posse of people there with you. It’s amazing the fascinating people you can meet when you’re by yourself.
It allows me to get the things done that I would’ve been too distracted by others to do. Whether I was physically with one (or a few) of my friends or constantly texting them 24/7, staying focused on not being alone made it impossible for me to concentrate on the important things I needed to get done, such as laundry, cleaning, and work. Spending more time on my own means I can get organized and get my act together. Plus, it leaves me feeling less anxious and stressed out while I’m trying to fall asleep, thinking about everything I meant to get done but never actually did.
I spend quality time with people who add to my life rather than just anyone because I don’t want to be alone. I used to always be doing something with someone and most of the time, the people I was around weren’t good for me (and often were getting me into trouble and dangerous situations). Now, instead of needing to fill my time with other people no matter how destructive they were to my life, I make taking care of myself a priority and spend quality time with the people who really matter.
Spending time figuring out my hobbies and interests has made me more independent and less reliant on others to entertain me. Recently I’ve been spending a lot of my alone time (that had previously been spent working around other people’s schedules and doing whatever it is that they wanted to do all the time) practicing new hobbies, writing, being active, and trying new fitness classes such as yoga. Most of these new interests are things that I typically do on my own, which is the key to successfully being by myself but not feeling so lonely all the time. They have given me more confidence and strength to be independent, and to take responsibility for my emotional well-being and happiness.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that being alone doesn’t equal being lonely. Part of the reason I was so terrified of being alone was that I had a huge fear of being lonely. Ironically, even though I had been surrounding myself with lots of fake people, I still felt lonely most of the time. Now, I know that being alone doesn’t mean lonely. I also know that feeling lonely is a universal emotion—it can’t always be avoided.
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