We have all been there: you’re hungry and no one is around to go with you to the dining hall. You want to go see the basketball game but everyone is out or busy with homework. There’s a comedian on campus who you want to go see, but you can’t find anyone to go with. No matter how popular you are, how many organizations you are in, or how many people stand you’re craziness/weirdness enough to call you a friend, everyone is faced with one of these situations at one point or another.
I’m not sure why it has become a social taboo to go places alone, especially in college. While studying abroad, I remember asking the friends I have made in all different parts of the country whether they don’t mind going places alone (during the day/in safe areas). For most of the people whom I met, the answer was yes. They were perfectly content going to the outdoor markets, cafés, and even restaurants stag.
Since many of these people were brave enough to pack their bags and study abroad by themselves, I figured maybe this answer was specific to that demographic, so I talked with more people who weren’t necessarily travelers. The answers I received were vastly different: some don’t like going anywhere alone. Some regularly go to the dining hall by themselves. Others will go to an off-campus event alone but not an on-campus event. I started to wonder why this was. My conclusion: fear.
No matter how many times you hear it, deep down, people do care what others think of them, and it is natural to feel this way. I think this is what people fear most. We are worried that others will think we have no friends or are some kind of “loner,” but the truth is, spending some time every-so-often independently can be a great thing.
It may be scary to go to a place by yourself at first, especially depending on where that place is. When you are on your own, you tend to run into others who are in groups, not on their own themselves. This may leave you feeling vulnerable as you are outnumbered. Staying confident is one way to avoid this. Realizing that you will be doing exactly what you want to do, without worrying what the other person is thinking, feeling, hoping is a wonderful feeling.
Doing some things on your own can also give you some confidence. Taking a break from constantly being swarmed with people can give you some perspective. Feeling self-dependence, self-reliant may make you feel brave. Also, exploring a new place, whether a coffee shop or club or what-have-you by yourself will give you a sense of your true opinion on whatever your facing as you have no one influencing you in the moment.
There is a line between isolating oneself and having the confidence to go to the dining hall stag when you can’t find anyone to go with. College is a time to socialize, meet new people, and embrace other’s personalities and perspectives. It’s just that doing something every now and again by yourself is perfectly fine too.
I’m reading Sociology In Our Times