As I write this, I’m alone at my house at 7:13 pm on a Saturday evening, drinking an outstanding glass of Zinfandel after an aggressive episode of pizza consumption.
I’m a 22-year-old female, so society says I shouldn’t be doing this. Society says there are shots to be taken, dancing to be done, and money to be spent for disgusting alcohol I won’t even enjoy.
But, I’m here to tell you why it’s quite necessary and shameless to do exactly what I’m doing. I’m here to tell you why being alone and independent is one of the most fundamental parts of our existence.
Some of you probably read that lead and thought, “Great, another person trying so hard to buck stereotypes that it’s coming off obnoxious.” If you didn’t, good, because I do tend to assume sometimes.
If you did, I’m not embellishing; I’m not saying it to be quirky, and I’m not doing it because I don’t have any friends.
My closest friends have given me sh*t for the aforementioned state I’m entertaining this Saturday, about not going out and drinking with them. On top of that, I have to watch my puppy.
I don’t want to be hungover tomorrow and don’t want to spend $70 at a terrible bar as people spill drinks on me.
I just don’t wish to go; I want to be alone, doing exactly this, and it’s taken me more than eight years to shamelessly act on such a feeling.
Society has this nagging need to put ideas in our head that just aren’t true; it’s really good at making us feel guilty for breaching its stupid, archaic, baseless norms.
My freshman year of college, I took a class called “Self and Society.” Every now and then, we’d watch videos of experiments recorded where people openly broke the societal norms, things as simple as facing a different direction in an elevator or eating food with their hands.
We were even tasked with doing such a project (mine involved sitting directly next to people on the bus when there were at least 20 other empty seats).
As you could probably imagine, peoples’ responses involved a combination of a shift in their seat away from me, along with questioning looks and sometimes even requests for me to move.
But when you think about it, why is it so weird? I mean, yeah, I know people in that situation probably just wanted their own space. I know there was an evolution to the current state of the society we’re in today, but why do we, for the most part, mindlessly adhere to societal norms?
I’m not suggesting you start acting inappropriately, or alarmingly wild in social situations; I’m saying do what you want, despite what others are doing.
It took me a really long time to realize all of this (despite that awesome class). All throughout college I went out, when a lot of times, I didn’t want to. Most of the time I had fun, despite my lack of interest in initially going. But, my constant thought was, “Everyone’s going out. I’m in college; I am supposed to be going out.”
Like I said, a lot of the time it was fun, but the primary reason I did it was because everyone was doing it, and I was told it was the thing to do. But even though it was fun, I wasn’t exactly happy.
I would end nights envious of the attention some girls would get; I'd be mad because my night didn’t go the way I thought it would.
Otherwise, I'd just be straight up sad because, on top of the consumption of a depressant in alcohol, my social anxiety would get the best of me. I would spend a large part of the night internally battling the uncomfortable aspect of it all.
As I started growing up a little and realizing how fair weather some friends could be, it was easier to make the decision to stay in or do what I wanted. But along with the decision came guilt: “I’ll just tell them I have a long paper to write so I have to stay in; that will get them off my back.” There always had to be an excuse.
Again, in time, I inched closer to being okay with it. But, still, guilt crept back: “Why am I not able to go out to a bar and pick a guy up? Why is everyone okay with doing this and I’m not?”
Finally, after countless nights of money thrown towards Fireball shots that only led to dizzy cinnamon drunkenness, I became a lot more confident in my statement of staying in to watch Netflix on a weekend evening. (Also, side note: Why is it a thing that a night out ends in sex? Who thought that was the way to end a night instead of with McDonald’s?!)
It’s hard. It sounds ridiculous to say that making your own decisions is hard, but it is. I still struggle with it today, but I’m getting so much better at knowing what I need to do to be happy, despite getting crap from others.
I love being alone; anyone who’s close with me knows this. Friends at school learned early on that being in the dark, in my bed with Netflix, didn’t mean I was sad or going through something; it was just what I enjoyed doing.
I started realizing that unless I’m recharged from a lot of alone time, I’m not even going to be a fun or decent person to be around. Just ask my roommates who woke me up at midnight on my 22nd birthday with a hallway filled with balloons and a couple presents.
They yelled, “Happy birthday!” only for me to yell, “What the f*ck is going on?” back at them, still half asleep. The details were sorted out in the morning, but you can see my point.
I finally realized who I am, as silly as it sounds. I’m still working on it, obviously, but I finally realized that being out at a bar or club means different things for different people, and that’s okay.
If a friend wants to be all over the guys and go home with one, then fine; that doesn’t affect me. If I want to, conversely, sit at the bar with a friend, talking over a couple beers, that’s fine.
Everyone can and should do whatever he or she wants, despite what others are doing, and despite what society tells us. It’s the only thing that will ever bring true happiness.
So, the next time someone asks what you did over the weekend and your response is, “Nothing, just hung out at home, recharging,” try to say it without shame.
I mean really without shame; instead, say it with bold, assertive confidence -- and not the kind people use to cover up an extreme self-consciousness.
Know that it’s right; it’s fine and it’s necessary. The person you’re talking with might, whether intentionally or not, make you feel bad or lesser because of it, but know that in that moment, what you did makes you happy.
Being alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely, weird or that you should feel guilty for not doing what others do at your age. You’re you before you’re anyone else, and remembering that will allow you to be happy.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It