Having a fear of being alone isn’t fun. What will you do when you have to make decisions all by yourself? How will you occupy yourself without somebody to talk to? These questions and concerns run though your head while your heart pounds. The thought of going to a movie without a friend is enough to make some people tremble. I used to be one of them. Now I know it isn’t so bad. When I let go of my fear of being alone, these four things happened.
1. I learned interesting things about myself
“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” –J.K. Rowling
This might sound crazy, but you don’t have as much free will as you think you do. Almost half of your decisions are directly influenced by subconscious programing—stuff you don’t even realize you’re doing.
According to Duke University, 40% of your daily actions are not based on logic or reason. Instead, they are habits that you perform without thought-process. Knowing that, how do you propose to understand yourself if you never take the time to pause and reflect?
Most people stagger through life like mindless automatons, because they never stop to consider what causes their behavior. As a result, they can’t change their behavior for the better. Practicing meditation and keeping a private journal helped me dig deep enough to locate the roots that were responsible for my habits. I learned how to be more compassionate with myself, cope with self-defeating beliefs, and leverage my personal strengths for more success.
2. I became more confident in my personality
“If you make friends with yourself you will never be alone.” —Maxwell Maltz
Don’t you think weekends might be more enjoyable if you weren’t 100% dependent on other people? It’s amazing how so many folks feel like they can’t do something fun unless a friend tags along.
I remember when I used to feel that way in college. Ironically, due of my fear of being alone, I spent a lot of Saturday nights locked in my dorm room feeling sad, because I really wanted to go see a movie or a play or a concert, but no one else was available to go. I didn’t want to go out all by myself, because I thought I would look like a loser.
Eventually, I realized my dependence on other people was completely unhealthy, so I decided it was time to get over it. I began my healing process by going to a coffee shop on my own. I took a book, which was a crutch (I was convinced people would stare at me, so it was nice to have a place to avert my gaze). But it helped me ease into it. It took me a while to get comfortable enough to interact with strangers, but now I can, and I became more confident in the process.
3. I realized conformity is nothing to be proud of
“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” —John F. Kennedy
Have you ever thought you were in a room by yourself, and decided to burst out in song or do a silly dance? Then you realized you actually weren’t alone (OMG someone saw the whole thing!), and you felt so embarrassed that you wished you could disappear?
If so, then you should know how tempting it is to conform due to a fear of judgment. People cannot be trusted to share their true selves when they are being watched. You want people to like you and you sure as hell don’t want to be criticized, so you’ll subconsciously censor yourself in a misguided effort to fit in.
Apply this thinking to the Internet. If your public behavior is influenced by the presence of others, don’t you think your online behavior might be influenced by the prospect of an All Seeing Eye monitoring your email and social media activity? You better believe it is. Try to catch yourself in the act of self-censorship if you don’t believe me. This is why I roll my eyes when people say online privacy doesn’t matter. Be yourself. If a person can’t accept you, they don’t deserve you.
4. I changed into a happier, more productive person
“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.” —Audrey Hepburn
You know what’s funny? I’m an introvert, but I didn’t even know it until I was over 20 years old. My past desire to conform made me think I was “supposed to” hang out with other people after school or work, but spending time alone taught me that I didn’t really enjoy that at all.
Don’t misread me. I believe friendship is very important. We all need at least one like-minded friend who is worthy of our trust. It’s hard to deal with life’s down moments without a person to talk to. But that doesn’t mean you need to hang out with your friends at a bar or restaurant every single evening. That sounds exhausting (not to mention expensive)!
Being alone rejuvenates me in a way that is hard to explain. I call the apartment I live in my “fortress of solitude.” I have grown to love living alone so much that I’m not sure I would trade it for anything. I can wake up, turn on some classical music, work without interruption, and get so lost in writing that I lose track of time. I can grab a good book, snuggle up with my dog, and read in silence. It’s nice to have company sometimes, but I am a lot happier when that is the exception, not the norm.
Being alone is nothing to fear.
Remember: this is all coming from a guy who used to have a fear of being alone. Give it a chance if you doubt me. It might change your life. If you have any friends who might share that fear, go ahead and send them here for some inspiration!
Featured photo credit: Girl Looking at Landscape Nature/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com