Flack: Solitude should not be frowned upon in society

Sean Flack

My mom is a social butterfly. And for most of my life, I inherited that trait from her. I loved going out and doing things. I would go to a party at someone’s house who I didn’t know that well just because it was a party. I needed people by me.

But then I lived by myself for the first time. It was a single dorm over at Wallace-Wilson. It was quiet. No one bothered you or tried to be social. I was by myself. And I loved it.

Doing anything by yourself has such a negative reputation in our society. I get weird looks from people when I tell them I go out to dinner by myself, or see a movie by myself or am spending Saturday night by myself. But me time is important. Not everyone has to take it to such an extreme like I do, but I think some alone time would make everyone happier.

We’re bombarded almost every second of our lives with human interaction. If it’s not in class or our apartment, it’s through Facebook or our phones. While this might seem like a nice security blanket for some, it just seems overwhelming to me. People pecking at you wondering what you’re doing, how’s your day, etc. I’m a big fan of taking a moment and living on the outskirts of society. It gives you time for self-reflection, to think and to — most importantly — relax.

But this seems to scare people or weird them out. Is it in our wiring that we just crave human interaction? This goes beyond just being comfortable eating at Olde Main by yourself. Every day people stay in unsatisfying relationships just so they’re not single.

I’d say first off it’s because we’ve never really learned how to be alone. Since birth, we’re brought up by our family, and then we leave the house to make friends, and then we come back home to our family. Constant people. I’ve always been someone with hobbies that didn’t require another person, and I grew up an only child, so enjoying solitude was an easy transition for me. This isn’t the case for most people.

Secondly, it’s this idea of life that has been spoon fed to us our entire lives by movies, TV shows and advertisements — this idea that you can’t be happy unless you’re with other people. Can you think of one film where the protagonist is truly happy by themselves? Or a romantic comedy where the lead female realizes that she doesn’t need men and is free to live her life? Nope, it’s characters needing other people in order to be happy.

I’m not saying to go live in a cave somewhere. I’m just saying that society should accept solitude more than it does. What’s so weird about a guy seeing a movie by himself? Or eating by himself? It’s not as if you’re talking throughout an entire movie, you’re supposed to be quiet and watch it. And hey, maybe some people aren’t into spending tons of money on alcohol every weekend. Maybe they’d just like to cozy up with a bag of popcorn and a Netflix movie.

These are stressful times. Whether we like it or not, a break every now and then is essential to our sanity. And it can be hard to get that peace when you have some guy from high school messaging you on Facebook chat or your roommate practicing his trumpet in the other room. Just trust me. Alone time is nice. Grab a newspaper, a book, your laptop, whatever, and get lunch by yourself sometime. It’s a nice break from the day, and you’ll realize it’s not as weird as you think.