The Santa Clara
May 9, 2019
You should never feel alone because you are always with yourself. In college it can be difficult to feel complete on your own when you are constantly surrounded by people and feel pressured to always be doing something.
For some reason, being alone in your room feels much lonelier than when we were by ourselves at home.
To fix this feeling the first thing to do is switch how you view alone time from being a lonely activity. Think about it as a time to hang out and get to know your best friend: yourself.
A study published in 2014 in Science, a research journal, found that people would rather do unexciting activities with others—or even deliberately shock themselves—than be alone. This is because being with other people allows us to tune out the voices in our head more easily and ignore our personal problems.
By avoiding checking in with ourselves, we risk creating larger problems that will be harder to solve in the days, months or years of being pushed away.
Fortunately, although being alone is scary, solitude’s many benefits will help you through whatever you have been avoiding.
According to a study published by the Society for Research in Child Development, being alone causes you to feel less insecure, which then allows for more creative problem solving. This research also found that being alone helped relieve stress and depressive symptoms.
It is important to note that participants did not describe the state of being alone as happier, but their solitude did result in greater happiness overall. Additionally, being alone does improve your relationships with others even if it sounds counterintuitive.
According to the Forbes article, “7 ScienceBacked Reasons You Should Spend More Time Alone,” being able to tolerate time alone is linked to greater happiness and deeper satisfaction. Individuals who are more capable when it comes to handling their stress show fewer signs of depression.
Although being alone can be a scary or unpleasant thought, you need it most when you do not want it. Recently I have realized my anorexia is a serious issue I need to give proper attention and time to address. Although I am scared to do it, I realize this will mean spending time by myself to reconnect and feel grounded and loved by myself so that my disease does not color my relationships with those around me.
When I say people should learn to value their solitude more, I am not advising that people isolate themselves for long periods of time from friends and family. That could easily have an adverse effect, making people lonelier rather than learning to enjoy their own company.
What I advise instead is mindfully setting aside time every day: turn off your notifications, stop checking social media and leave behind work. Take an hour each day to do an activity for yourself that involves some sort of mental check-in and regrounding.
I personally like to go on long runs away from campus, throw dance parties in my room alone and put on my favorite music and just lay in my bed reflecting.
College has such constant stimulation that it can sometimes be hard to turn off all the noise and focus inwards. But you will be extremely happy you do it, even if you do not consider yourself someone who enjoys solitude.
I personally hate being alone—which is precisely how I knew it was time to take a cleansing break from constant interactions and learn to stand on my own without anyone around me to use as a crutch. If you put too much weight on that crutch it will crumble and you will fall with it.
Learn to love yourself, learn to love your own company and learn to stand on your own two feet because once you have that foundation, you can go anywhere. Learn to be your own best friend and you will never be lonely a day in your life.
Sahale Greenwood is a sophomore political science and communication double major.