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“It’s fine, I’ll just go alone.”
I’ve heard that sentence used so many times, often in a very desolate context, as if being alone is a bad thing, the sad aftermath of all your friends canceling on you, instead of your own choice, as if to be with yourself somehow reflects your inability to be with others.
Whether it is planning to go to the mall, gatherings, or vacations, you’ll always find people asking around, posting on social media, even making acquaintances with strangers in order to have someone to go with. In many situations, this is the wise choice to make in terms of finance or safety. But if you think all these people don’t travel alone because of some inherent inferiority that being by yourself exposes, Daun Kim, class of 2025, wrote a great piece on traveling solo
that might change your mind.
Since we’re surrounded by group events and community get-togethers, I think we’ve not only forgotten the importance of being alone, but the several disadvantages of group activities that people often don’t talk about enough. These disadvantages are instead considered part and parcel of existing in a society, and they might be, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they’re still inconvenient. Most of us have felt annoyed at some point in our lives by the sheer amount of time, effort, and compromise it takes to plan group outings. If you’re planning a foreign trip with your friend group, good luck to you. Rewarding as they are, one can’t help but compare the experience to simply packing up a bag and jetting off by yourself: no itineraries, no plans, just the world, and you.
Of course, one could counter by saying that the solidarity and bonding that comes from being in a group can’t be replicated when you’re alone. And I agree, but that is exactly the point I’m trying to make — being alone is not supposed to be a replacement for being in a group. If you expect the same joy from being alone that you get when you’re with your friends, you’re always going to be disappointed. Instead, I want us to view solitary activities as advantageous in ways that are different from group activities. They’re a time for reflection, new ideas, planning ahead, and just, recharging for the next day
. A New York Times opinion piece
expresses the benefits of solitary walks, of wandering with nothing but your own thoughts as company.
With the distractions of the modern world, where notifications battle for our attention, and with the small campus we live in where there’s always a list of people to schedule meals with, alone time is the one thing, besides sleep, that we’re always deprived of. So I say we should stop viewing being alone as a last resort, as something we only do when there’s no one else around to keep us company. Instead, I want us to choose to be alone, take out time for it, think about the things you would do if there was not one person in the world to go with you, and do them. I've come to learn the most about myself during my solitary morning runs, or while staring up at the ceiling in my room, or having a cup of coffee alone. The phrase itself — being by yourself — is comforting, don’t you think? Being with yourself, keeping yourself company, it makes you realize that the world, your friends, your university degree, they’re all in the background. After all, your world really does revolve all around you.
Tiesta Dangwal is Senior Opinion Editor. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org