Learning to Be Alone
By Madeleine Scully
Introverts, this article is not for you. Anyone who knows me will tell you that it is hard for me to spend an hour alone. At home, I went to a small high school where my best friends were always in a 10-foot radius of me and I never had to eat a meal by myself. While some people crave alone time, I am 95% extroverted on the Myers-Briggs personality test. Two of my best friends are introverted, and I never understand how they can go days with little human interaction and be okay with it. I, on the other hand, cannot spend too much time alone or I feel extremely isolated, sad, and simply bored. I get my energy from other people, I crave the joy and laughter that comes with human contact, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Though this might sound dramatic, learning to be alone in college was a big step for me.
Arriving at Duke for O-Week, I realized that college was about finding a balance between introversion and extroversion. While you are forced to try and make friends as quickly as possible and be outgoing and energetic all the time, there are also large spans of time that you are alone until you find people you genuinely enjoy. When I am forced to be alone, I jump to my phone for the relieving comfort of social media and high school friends. Quickly, I learned that you can be surrounded by people and still feel very lonely. Yet, thankfully, that did not stop me from seeking out friendships.
Looking back at the year, however, I now realize how important it is to learn that it is okay to be alone sometimes. You can learn to be alone without feeling lonely, though it takes practice and time. I soon discovered that if I wanted to go see a professor or lecturer that none of my friends wanted to see, it was okay to go by myself (shocking, I know). I am proud to say that I have never regretted going to anything alone; I have always left feeling satisfied, confident, and happy that I took myself out of my comfort zone. Sitting alone with your thoughts is also important, though it can be intimidating. I have come up with some of my best ideas while being alone, though I hate to admit it.
The one thing I still have failed to master is the art of eating meals alone. Yes, I will continue to text everyone I know and track them on Find My Friends to see who is in West Union. But, to people who can do such a brave thing: I admire you, yet I do not think I will ever have your confidence. Until then, I will take the little victories; I will go study in a coffee shop by myself, see Jay Pharoah live, or sit by myself while pretending to read interesting articles on my phone. I am still not entirely comfortable being alone, but now at least I am a little bit less lonely when I am.