Feeling Comfortable With Being Alone
Be your own best friend—a worthy cliché
My best friend in grade school was the librarian.
Since then, I've made friends closer to my age, but I've always preferred a few meaningful relationships over many surface-level ones. Consequently, I spend a lot of time alone, as my few close friends have their own lives and busy schedules.
My group-of-one used to embarrass me. I secretly envied the high school groups of 20 friends that always had a plus-one (or plus-ten). But dedicating my attention and care to more than a small handful of friends wasn't realistic.
Despite being alone often, I actually felt most lonely when forcing myself to spend time with a group I didn't relate to. I preferred reading, cooking, and discussing class material over attending sports events and keeping up with TV shows (I grew up without watching TV and it never stuck). My differing interests, paired with being an introverted and socially awkward teenager, left few enjoyable social opportunities.
During my senior year of high school, I stopped waiting for others to volunteer their time to join me and validate my experiences. The decision wasn't a product of deep reflection. I was bored, hadn't found joy in pre-established group activities, and thus went out on my own more frequently.
The permission to cruise solo served me well in college. I've visited many museums, enjoyed teas and meals out, gone on hikes, and explored DC on my own. I studied abroad in Sydney and frequetly parted ways with my travel buddy when our interests differed.
I crave new experiences and locations, which not many of my peers prioritize during the school year. I enjoy my activities with company—I always invite new and old friends along in case they're interested in joining—but if no one volunteers, then the plan still stands.
Someone recently mentioned they wish they had become more comfortable on their own sooner in life, which prompted my reflection. Without noticing, I've transitioned from being on my own out of necessity, to fully embracing my solo experiences.
I don't want to discredit the value of sharing experiences with others. That element cannot be replaced. But if there's no one who will enhance your experience, be your own best friend and go experience what you want to do. Eat at a restaurant, travel, attend a class, sign up for a race, go to the theater. You have the ability to create your own highlights and memories. And who knows, you might even meet someone interesting who's also on their own.