Alone. To a lot of people, that’s a really depressing word.
I can’t even count the amount of times I have heard those around me talk about how they can’t stand being single or how spending time by themselves for too long makes them uncomfortable.
And of course, I’m just here to ask, very politely—why?
I understand the fear of being alone but I also don’t. People want to go see a certain movie but no one can go with them, so they don’t go see it. They want to go get ice cream or dinner but no one can go with them, so they eat at home instead. They want to go visit you in your hometown but 2 hours in the car is too long to be by themselves, so they’ll just wait to see you during the school year. It’s a pattern.
And I’m not going to lie, sometimes if I don’t have a friend to go out to eat with or whatever, I’ll opt to stay in instead. But there is a difference between staying in because you don’t feel like making the effort by yourself and staying in because going alone makes you uncomfortable/afraid/worried about what other people will think.
So when I am hanging out with friends who complain to me about how they don’t have a boyfriend or how they will never eat alone because it is just too weird, it makes me a little sad for them.
Because frankly, being alone is awesome.
Fear of Being Single
I used to be extremely scared of being single because I assumed if I didn’t get a boyfriend ASAP I was most likely going to die alone. In high school, I went through a time where I wanted a boyfriend more than Plankton wanted the crabby patty secret formula (I don’t know why my mind jumped to a Spongebob reference, but it feels right so let’s go with it).
With every guy I talked to, I hoped and prayed that we would end up dating so I could rely on someone else, have him fix all the other problems in my life while also proving to other people that yeah, I have a boyfriend, I’m in a cool relationship, my life is SO GREAT, how’s YOURS?
I cringe and shake my head sadly towards high school freshman Maggie. That’s a really terrible explanation for wanting to be in a relationship yet, I know several people who are in relationships right now for those very reasons. I was going through rough times mentally and thought that a boyfriend would fix everything for me! A boyfriend would make me blissfully, irrevocably happy.
But ohmygod, guess what? That is not how life works.
It wasn’t until someone else taught me this, ingrained it in my brain every day for a year, that I actually realized my mindset was so unbelievably wrong and one of the reasons I wasn’t happy.
A relationship doesn’t mean automatic happiness. You’re the one who’s job it is to make yourself content, not someone else. Because if you are constantly putting your happiness into other people’s hands, you will end up disappointed every time. I can vouch for this, let me tell you.
When I see people only dating someone just for the sole sake of being in a relationship, I feel slightly bad for them. I’ve learned that being on your own is the greatest sense of freedom you can have. Being independent is a gift so many people take for granted and never utilize to the fullest because they’re always worried about the stigma of being alone.
Being in relationships can be great and bring a lot of happiness into people’s lives but it’s important to remember that it’s not everything. It’s not going to make you cooler or turn you into the person you feel you were always meant to be.
At the end of the day, you don’t need someone else to complete you and define you because you have yourself.
Fear of Doing Things Alone
Aside from the fear of being alone, there is the fear of doing things alone as well.
For example, there are so many different things I have planned for myself in the future, so many things I want to see and do. But due to the course of life and different interests, my friends and family probably won’t be able to participate in majority of it. Everyone has different paths to take and since mine is pretty much off the beaten one, I don’t really expect anyone to join me.
I want to move to Thailand after I graduate. That is a dream of mine. Well, what if I was scared to go alone? What if I was scared to board that plane by myself, having to figure out what gate I’m in, what hotel to stay at, what to do in a foreign country that doesn’t speak my language? I will be all alone in a new place with no one that I remotely know.
And okay, I’m not going to lie, that does scare me a little bit. But what if I let that fear of loneliness hold me back?
That answer is pretty simple: then I would never get to experience my biggest dream. And frankly, that would suck a lot.
I think it just boils down to the question, do you want to rely on people around you for the rest of your life or be able to depend on yourself for the things that really matter?
People come and go, but you’re stuck with yourself for life.
People fear being alone for various reasons, whether it’s because they’ve been hurt by someone before, have a dislike for themselves or they’ve just never been forced to experience and are finding themselves in whole new, confusing ballpark.
Like I mentioned in 20 Things I’ve Learned in 20 Years, fear is just a product of our imagination and only has as much power as we give it.
It doesn’t have to be a big leap like moving out of your shared apartment and into a single one or going on a solo trip through Europe for one to experience TRULY being on your own. It can be anything as simple as going to dinner by yourself or spending some alone time on a walk or a drive.
If you have a fear of being alone, it can take time to learn to love it, so thats why the smallest steps can be the most important. Doing the small things will make you realize that spending time with yourself isn’t as scary as it appears and that you are capable of handling it. It won’t happen over night but it’s definitely possible for everyone.
Learning to love being by yourself opens up a lot of different doors that you wouldn’t have otherwise. And from my personal experience, you can’t really be happy until you learn to love your own company.