Many of us students have grown to be highly independent, especially those who stay on campus – from travelling to class alone to doing your own laundry, many daily activities necessitate a certain level of self-reliance. This transition towards doing many things alone and independently might lead to feelings of loneliness to arise. However, in this article, we will reveal why you don’t need to feel lonely even when alone. In fact, doing things alone could actually serve as a nice respite from the noise of our daily lives! Want to learn to embrace and appreciate the beauty of spending time with yourself? Read on.
The gratifying amount of freedom afforded by doing things on your own
Doing things alone means that you have a great amount of freedom to make decisions and carry out activities that suit your own preferences. Indeed, certain activities such as going out for a meal could be a fun and social activity if you were to do them with your friends. However, indulging in these activities yourself would in turn allow you to account for factors that would positively shape your experience and mood. In the case of having a meal, you would have the freedom to choose to eat the food that you might be craving for the day, the location that would best suit your convenience, and the time at which you desire to have your meal.
In the context of one’s (likely) hectic University life, this benefit of doing things alone could prove extremely useful. As it is likely that you and your friends’ classes take place at varyingly different times of the day, being able to schedule group activities, such as meal get-togethers, or even do small things together, such as taking the shuttle bus to class, might be virtually impossible. Hence, rather than force-fitting your schedule to fit another’s for the sake of constant companionship, it might be advisable to place your own needs and schedule at the forefront instead. Give yourself the time and space to breathe, and at the same time reap the benefits of having the freedom to do things the way you want to!
The only one paying acute attention to you is yourself
It is natural that many of us are afraid of being judged for doing things alone – this is perhaps best encapsulated by the acronym, ‘FOBA’, which means ‘Fear of Being Alone’. However, such a fear might be largely unfounded.
FOBA (Source: Urban Dictionary)
Can you recall a time when you’ve judged someone negatively for being alone? It is likely that your answer is no, for people generally do not pay such great attention to the actions and behaviours of others around them. If you find yourself greatly self-conscious and hyper-aware of how others perceive you, it is likely that you are experiencing the spotlight effect. The spotlight effect causes one to overestimate the attention that others are paying to them, possibly leading to fears of judgement that could produce a level of social anxiety.
In reality, studies show that we tend to believe others are judging us harsher than they really are. It is unlikely that others would judge you for doing things alone, for they either do not perceive being alone as a bad thing (similar to what we suggest in this article!), or they simply do not care that much about whether you are alone! Know that everyone is most concerned with their own activities – they are too busy to be focusing on what you are doing, and how you’re doing things. As such, let go of your inhibitions, if any, and embrace the time that you can spend alone, rather than put it off as a result of your fears of how others would perceive you.
Alone time is precious time for introspection
For many of us, balancing school and other aspects of life can be wholly overwhelming. It is completely normal to experience feelings such as stress, anxiety, and frustration. The healthy practice would be to find an outlet to understand and release these emotions – spending time alone can prove to be extremely helpful in this regard. Recent studies found that having alone time in nature can be soothing for the mind, providing one with the opportunity to evaluate one’s life and reflect on one’s experiences (Source: The Inertia).
Whether you choose to spend your alone time in nature or otherwise, giving yourself space to step back from the noise of your busy life and engaging in healthy reflection is crucial in maintaining a healthy mind. By sitting in your own thoughts, you get to know yourself better, perhaps gaining a clearer understanding of life and any problems that you might be facing. Furthermore, you could even gain energy and inspiration from your surroundings, as you properly observe your environment free from distractions.
“I’m all alone, but I’m not lonely,” wrote Haruki Murakami in his book, 1Q84.
Perhaps we can all learn to emulate this sentiment to some extent, as we go about our fleeting University experiences. The prospect of having meaningful alone time is brimming with much potential – go forth and experience it for yourself (if you haven’t already done so)! Share your experiences of spending time alone (but not being lonely) with us on Instagram @nusresidentiallife, as we would love to hear all about it.