Advice
Comment 1

Alone Time

Listen While Reading: Clouds // BØRNS.

I am currently sitting in my favorite place to do work— with small vintage chandeliers, dark brown leather and wood, and a menu written on a smoky mirror, I find myself transported to one of those little European cafés people rave about. Finished with my work (and even a bit ahead), I decided to stay here a while and write. It is rammed 95% of the time, making it a hot spot for people watching. Plus, it is only a short subway ride away from my school, but I never recognize anyone. Despite my school having a population of a whopping 18,000, I seem to see the same people everywhere I go. I could literally sit here for hours, eating fancy desserts and pastries, of course.

I come here to spend time with myself. When I was in high school, I was very self-conscious about being seen by myself— in the lunch room, at school assemblies, and in my free periods. I figured that people sitting alone meant they were lonely. I think of myself as a bit of a lone wolf, so constantly worrying about others seeing me that way was tiring. One thing I have learnt in my first year of university is that I shouldn’t mind what people think about me. Of course there is value in being well liked, but any stranger who judges you based on one look in your direction is someone who deserves to remain a stranger.

I have also learnt that people really don’t care. Seeing people alone in the dining hall eating or studying is as frequent and normal as seeing a group of friends laughing over lunch. I actually get jealous when I see people eating by themselves, as alone time is a precious commodity in university, especially if you’ve got a roommate like I do.

Sitting in this Internet-free café, I am relieved to give my overly-stimulated brain a few hours off. It is nice not to feel pressure to respond to every notification, text, or flash of light coming from my phone. Just being alone with my notebook— whether I am writing for all of you, making lists, or making plans— calms my seemingly perpetual anxiety. The strangest thing is that I am surrounded by bustling energy, yet I still feel as if I am alone. According to my psychology class, the previous sentence is the definition of loneliness. Yes, I have felt like this in the most negative way possible, but when it is by choice, it can be extremely refreshing.

One of my aims this year is to spend more time like this—giving my inner lone wolf some satisfaction. I think it gives me more time to reflect and process what is going on in my life and allows me to enjoy my time with friends more fully.

My point is if you are afraid to do things by yourself— whether it’s eating a meal, going to a museum, or getting a drink at a coffee shop— because of a fear of others’ opinions, I totally understand. The way others react very much depends on your age and situation, but if people are making assumptions about you when they see you alone, know that one day, people will envy you. Don’t be scared to let your inner lone wolf roam free.


Words by Martha Beaven // Photography by Cassi Harvey.

© 2015 Reef Magazine

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