Always A Text Away: Why Our Generation Is So Afraid Of Being Alone

I’ve never fully understood why certain people are afraid of being alone.

Sure, there are times when I would simply rather not be alone, like when I’m out to dinner or watching a big football game. But -- unlike a lot of my friends -- I can't say that I get anxious when I’m spending time alone.

I’m actually pretty good at keeping myself occupied. When it comes time to see my friends, I enjoy our time together. But I've never felt pressured to be with people for the sake of having company. I write. I exercise. I watch a lot of tennis. I stay busy. And in a way, I sort of enjoy being alone, as dark as that may sound.

However, for some people I know, being alone is a very negative thing.

If you spend a great deal of time alone, people will often ask why -- as if there’s something wrong with you or it’s impossible that you’d actually choose to be alone.

We’ve come to feel apprehensive about being alone, so we try to avoid it by any means necessary -- including ways that are destructive. We might surround ourselves with the wrong company -- the wrong friends, the wrong partner.

It’s true that perpetual loneliness isn't healthy. But spending some time alone is not just beneficial; it's necessary.

Still, we’re so afraid of being alone. This is why.

We don’t take the time to know ourselves.

It's ironic that modern technology, which is intended to make our lives more efficient, makes us feel like we don't have any free time.

We’re constantly running around, whether from school to work, or work to the gym, and we’re responding to a million different apps that are giving us a million different notifications. And when we do finally get some down time away from all of that, we want to spend our time with our friends, not ourselves.

We’re so preoccupied with doing things and responding to things that we rarely take the time to sit, reflect and learn about ourselves. But when we do, we immediately feel restless and bored.

We constantly need people and notifications around just to keep us entertained. When we’re alone for too long, we feel lonely.

Pop culture has taught us that being alone is a bad thing.

Every sad song laments loneliness. The geeky kid in every teen movie is usually the one who eats his lunch alone and spends his weekends by himself. Because of popular culture, we’ve become conditioned into thinking that being alone makes us less desirable.

Well, it doesn’t.

There’s nothing wrong with spending time by yourself, even if the "popular" people seem to always be surrounded by large crowds. Being lonely is a part of life and, to be completely honest, it leads to important periods of self-growth.

We’d rather jump into destructive relationships than be single.

These days, we’re so afraid of loneliness that we’ll jump into relationships that might not be a perfect fit.

Our instinct for company might come from feelings of insecurity, but it leads to bigger problems. When someone jumps into a relationship only to stave off loneliness, the relationship usually isn't the healthiest. It can become toxic and difficult to leave.

So rather than wait for the right person to come around, we mistakenly respond to the first person we see. This is not a recipe for success.

If we wait a little longer for the right person, the connection will be so much more meaningful.

We want instant gratification and constant attention.

A lot of good can come from being alone. When people are alone, they tend to take up new hobbies and learn new things. But I've noticed that fewer people have hobbies these days.

Technology seems to have killed the hobby. It's always rare to hear of someone who spends one afternoon a week knitting, baking or hiking.

Because these types of things won’t result in much instant gratification and validation.

Our generation is defined by social media. We want likes. We want attention. We’re fixated on what everyone else thinks. And no one is seeing you knitting in your living room or taking a hike (unless you Instagram either of these things).

Spending time alone doesn't usually beget instant gratification. Most of us are afraid of being alone because we don't want to be seen as desperate or undesirable. We want someone to reassure us, as often as possible, that we are loved.