Don’t confuse alone time with loneliness

One of life’s most mundane and overlooked pleasures—alone time. The idea of being alone, especially in public, can be a daunting thought, but it is so much more than mere solitude. Being alone opens up a world of opportunities for adventure, productivity, relaxation, and the chance to get to know yourself on a deeper level. Here are three reasons why you should try riding solo for a change.

Find out what you’re passionate about

Mia Maytaah, third-year journalism student at Ryerson University, uses her alone time as an opportunity to indulge in her passion and side hustle: painting. Since transforming a little nook in her apartment into a mini painting studio, Maytaah spends a lot of her time there either blasting music or bingeing reruns of How I Met Your Mother, all while relishing in her therapeutic craft. “I feel like I couldn’t do it with anybody except me,” she said. 

Maytaah says that there is a massive social pressure to do exciting things all the time, especially when it has become the norm to post about it on Instagram with funny videos and “constant story updates.” “If you’re not doing something every single night, then what the hell are you doing? People will look at you and be like ‘You’re such a loser, how do you not have anything to do?’”, she says. “But at the same time, you could say, ‘Why don’t you ever want to be alone?’ You can just turn that [narrative] back around on them.”

The most important part about alone time for her, is introspection. “Doing things alone, even from an early age, teaches you so much about yourself,” Maytaah said. “It teaches you what you like and don’t like—from what kind of toothpaste you like, to how you’d want to be treated by a partner.” 

A sense of accomplishment

Paul Alakhume, third-year computer engineering student, says that being alone helps boost his productivity. “I struggle to get things done when I do homework with my friends because I have ADHD and I get distracted very easily,” he says. “It’s also a bit of an ego boost too—by the end, when I’m all done my work, it feels good to say that I did everything by myself.”

Living alone also helped Alakhume manage his time more efficiently and allowed him to become fully independent. “It may seem silly, but the fact that I’m able to clean my whole house and do my own laundry and cook for myself all in one day, is a win for me,” he says. “There’s a strange little sense of accomplishment in doing daily tasks like that all by yourself, and I find that I’m always subconsciously chasing after that feeling.”

Mental health and inner peace

“Although it is important to have a support system of people you can vent to, there is such great power in being able to process your emotions in a self-reflective way, on your own instead,” says second-year architecture student, Mitch Festa. 

On days where he is feeling particularly anxious or upset, Festa has gotten into the practice of journaling all of his thoughts as a way to “cope and heal.” In these journal entries, he usually writes down how he is currently feeling, potential reasons as to why he may feel this way, and finally, he ends it off with positive affirmations to reassure himself that “[he] will be okay.” “Nine times out of 10, it usually does the trick and I end up feeling a lot more at ease when I’m finished writing,” he says. Doing this over a span of two years helped to rationalize his thoughts and prevent those feelings from becoming more intense than he can handle. 

Festa says that being alone is merely just a part of life, and finding comfort in being by yourself is more about growth rather than isolation.

Once you are able to confront the inevitable reality that loneliness is simply a part of life, you can learn so much about who you are as a person. Go on a walk by yourself, pick up a new hobby, or get in tune with your emotions, like Festa. No matter how drab it may seem to go through your day without a friend or family member by your side, it may just open up a world of opportunity and personal bonding time. 

Photo by Alisa Anton/Unsplash.