Learn to Be Alone

Everyone can benefit from spending some quality time alone

by Published: Oct 30, 2013

Want to know the key to true hap­pi­ness? Learn how to be alone.

It might sound awful to some of us; lone­li­ness is the oppo­site of hap­pi­ness, right? Not always.

As a col­lege stu­dent, you’re prob­a­bly always on the go. Most of us carry heavy credit loads, and some go straight from class to work and then to the library for the rest of the night to cram for tomorrow’s exam.

The prob­lem here is you never had a chance in your busy day to spend any qual­ity time with the most influ­en­tial per­son in your life — your­self. It is so impor­tant, espe­cially as col­lege stu­dents in the biggest tran­si­tional period of our lives, to be able to spend unstruc­tured time alone each day.

For one, alone time gives the mind a chance to unwind and process the day’s events. If we’re on the run from the moment the alarm goes off until pass­ing out in bed, the con­scious mind never truly rests. If we allow our­selves even a half hour of idle time each day, our minds have a chance to revi­tal­ize and focus. It’s like let­ting out a big men­tal sigh before mov­ing on with the day.

This doesn’t always have to be a sched­uled period of silence, though. It’s easy enough to spend time “alone,” even in pub­lic. People get so worked up about not hav­ing any­one to go to the cafe­te­ria with — I’ll admit it makes me uncom­fort­able, too — but I do try to force myself to eat alone from time to time. It gives me time to think, to process and to really get to know myself with­out the dis­trac­tion of con­stant dia­logue. If we allow our lives to be con­stantly in motion, we deny our­selves the height­ened cre­ativ­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity offered by men­tal recharge.

This is impor­tant in rela­tion­ships, too. While mak­ing a con­scious effort to learn to love your time alone, you’re prob­a­bly improv­ing the qual­ity of your rela­tion­ships, as well. Taking the time to be intro­spec­tive allows you to really fig­ure out who you are and what you value in life. Once you sit down and fig­ure out these pri­or­i­ties, you are ready to com­mit your­self to another per­son. It’s so easy to jump from one rela­tion­ship to another with­out com­ing up for air, but with­out a lit­tle soli­tude to rest and reflect, what have you learned about the last rela­tion­ship? What’s going to be dif­fer­ent about the next?

Going along with this, what if the rela­tion­ship you’re sure will last for­ever comes to an end for one rea­son or another? Even in the unlikely event that you marry your high school sweet­heart ‘til death do you part, one of you will out­live the other. I find it com­fort­ing to know I can live alone now. If ever I am forced into the unfor­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion of being parted from those I love, I will have enough to worry about with­out fear­ing I might not make it alone.

If this idea seems for­eign, I chal­lenge you to still give it a try. We’re all busy; that’s what any­one can expect in col­lege, but there’s always time to be alone. Shut your dorm room door for a half hour. Walk to The Rock alone. Turn your phone on silent. If this is still impos­si­ble, block out a few hours in your sched­ule each week when you don’t allow your­self to make any plans. I promise, if you com­mit to get­ting to know the per­son behind the face you wear in pub­lic, inner peace and hap­pi­ness will soon follow.

  • Bob Dundas

    Wow this guy sounds really smart. You done a real good job.