Your 20s are often deemed as the period in your life where you’re getting everything together - new jobs, new friends, new communities, new growth, new everything. Everyone is scrambling to figure out who they are and what they want to do, and in the background, there is this unsettling realization that we are all spending a lot more time alone.
Whether you’re struggling to make new friends in a new city or you’re starting a new journey on your own, being alone doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Today, I’m talking to you all about how to be alone in your 20s, the benefits of solitude, and some tips and tricks that have helped me feel content in my own presence.
So, I’m 21, almost 22, and I have to say. Being in your 20s is the weirdest thing ever. I know I’m still in the early stages, but it is such a bizarre experience. People are graduating college, starting families, traveling the world, moving back home, moving to a new town, etc. You get what I’m saying - things feel all over the place.
The biggest reason I wanted to talk to you guys about this today is because my long-term partner just moved across the country. We’ve been together for 5+ years, and honestly, we did everything together. Grocery store shops were with him, random Sunday brunches were with him, and every dog walk was with him. So, when he left and we entered into this long-distance relationship, I realized that I was going to be alone…a LOT.
At first, I was pretty scared. The idea of being alone so often was a bit intimidating, even though I’m definitely an introvert who values their space. I did some reading and some learning about what it means to be alone, and I wanted to share what I found out with you.
We’re going to start this off with the difference between being alone and being lonely.
The Difference Between Being Alone and Being Lonely
If you’re confused on whether or not you’re feeling lonely or if you’re just alone, welcome to the club. It can be super confusing, because sometimes, being alone DOES feel lonely. So, how do we tell the difference?
It’s important that we remember the distinction here.
Loneliness involves being isolated from community despite wanting and yearning for those social connections. If you’re in a position where you CAN’T socialize when you WANT to, this could lead to you feeling lonely.
Of course, I’m not a mental health professional, so if you feel like you’re in the depths of loneliness, consult someone who can truly give you the guidance you deserve.
But going back to loneliness v.s. being alone - now that we know what loneliness is, what does it mean to be alone?
Being alone is the practice of taking time for yourself between regular social interactions. You might find time to be alone in the car before going into work, or you might wake up an extra 30 minutes earlier to be alone before having to take care of others.
The main difference here is that being alone is intentional.
If you’re an introvert like me, being alone might actually be a necessary part of your day. I use my alone time to recharge that social battery, and honestly, I kinda prefer it. I’m someone who likes to be alone or be with a select group of people I feel close to.
Here’s the cool part that I came across: there is an increasing amount of evidence suggesting that a certain amount of quality time alone is critical to well-being.
Yes, CRITICAL. So truthfully, we need to learn how to be alone! It can be uncomfortable at first if we don’t know what we are doing, so I collected a few things to inspire you.
Benefits of Being Alone:
Being alone can be scary, but what if I told you that there are clear benefits to being alone?
It can help you concentrate better.
It’s connected to an improvement in memory.
It can induce new creativity.
It allows you to focus on YOU, making your interests a priority.
Now that we know some of the benefits of being alone, let’s talk about what you can do if you’re new to being alone.
Tips for If You’re New to Being Alone:
Pick up new hobbies
This is your time to focus on YOU! Think of any hobbies or pastimes you’ve been wanting to try out. If you find yourself with some time alone, now may be the perfect opportunity to pick up a new hobby.
I actually made a list of things I want to try on my Pinterest, and I’ll just go back in and reference it when I feel like I want to try something new.
Get comfortable with silence
This one’s hard, but there are some things you can do to help ease yourself into it. Listening to podcasts, youtube videos, Netflix shows, or really anything with sound can really help you get comfortable with being alone. It gives you this illusion that someone/something else is there or going on, and I’ve found that it helps me a lot.
Another option would be listening to some music! Just because you’re alone, doesn’t mean it has to be dead quiet all the time. Find ways to fill the silence if that makes you more comfortable. But other times, we need to embrace that silence.
The next time you pick up a book to read, try not putting on music or anything in the background. Allow yourself to find comfort in the silence.
Make self-reflection something you look forward to
I’m sure we’ve all heard of how being alone often leads to a bit of self-reflection, and if that’s not something you’re ready for, it can be pretty off-putting. For this, I would encourage you to make self-reflection something you look forward to. Something I love to do before sitting down to do my journal reflections is making myself a cup of coffee.
By pairing something I love with something that’s a bit daunting, it brings some positivity to the situation. And remember, self-reflection doesn’t always have to mean something negative! I used to think that self-reflection meant self-critique and let me assure you that it does NOT.
Self-reflection is a way for you to understand all areas of your life, so make sure that you’re framing it in a positive light.
Well, those are my main tips and tricks! I really hope that it helped you feel more comfortable with being alone in your 20s, or really at any age.
I wanted to end this off with two things I’m challenging myself to do. If you try one of them, let me know how it went! Talk to you all next week besties! :)
Things I’m Challenging Myself to Do:
Go to dinner alone. Sit in the restaurant by myself. Try to stay off my phone.
Go see a movie alone. Get popcorn if I want it. Not be afraid of being there by myself.
Disclaimer: When going out alone, please be SAFE and be wary of your surroundings!