Alone with Everybody
August 18, 2021
Low Entropy Volunteer Writer Connie Wong describes how solitude can be just as valuable as friendship.
I have enjoyed hanging out with my friends since elementary school. With friends, you are less worried about walking alone awkwardly and they can be there when you feel bored and need company. By middle school, we had around ten people who always gathered together to share our thoughts and feelings within our group.
There is endless fun within a group, but they can also create problems simultaneously: you could easily feel left out if you’re the shy kid in the group. As well, sometimes you want to fit in, but it can be time-consuming to participate. Being involved in group activities can take up my study time, or just the moments that I wish to spend alone quietly.
Later, as I graduated from middle school, I went to a new high school where the students had already known each other for two years before I transferred. It wasn’t challenging for me to find a friend there, but I was hoping to find a friend group like I previously had. I started to glance at each corner of the school and see where I could fit in.
Eventually, after a long observation, I decided to give up because, in my opinion, none of the groups I saw felt welcoming. The in-group bias made their friendships stronger and more connected inside, and it was clear what they might look for in new members. I understood because that’s what I would have thought back in middle school.
I decided to stay at school as little as I could to avoid being an outlier who did not belong to any of the friend groups. One day I needed to ask questions before an important exam. As soon as I was done with the question I went to the library, where everyone was told to sit alone for social distancing. This place was absolutely a shelter for me to conceal my awkwardness.
I took out my supplies and turned to look out the library windows: many students were sitting outside by themselves. Some were reading books, some were enjoying their lunch, and some were just confidently walking around in the school.
“Don’t they feel awkward when they see others gather as a group and they look left out?” I wondered.
I stared at them for a few more minutes, and I answered myself.
“No, they’re perfectly fine without a friend beside them.”
If I didn’t grow up as part of a group, I might have felt more natural spending my time alone in public. However, being alone after spending most of my time with the group was a nightmare for me. It made me feel like a lonely performer on a stage. Seeing others living perfectly fine without friends around them helped me release my tension, and I gradually learned to be confident by myself in a crowd.
Everyone has a choice in whether to join a group or work alone. I’m not an introvert or an extrovert: I’m a person who loves being both and trying to balance them. Spending too much time socializing is exhausting for me, but it is also difficult for me to stay at home for more than three days.
Friendships can play important roles in our life, but allowing them to take over your schedule is not healthy. Learning to be alone is essential because you never know when you might be separated from your friends. Always stay patient and calm when you need to go through some time alone. Only that will make your friendships grow stronger.
Are you an introvert or extrovert? An ambivert, maybe? An omnivert, perhaps? Or maybe you’re something else entirely? Let us know in the comments below, or join our community platform to make a whole bunch of instant connections! And whoever you are, we appreciate you!
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