I went for three whole years without a single friend. Yes, you heard that right. Three years. No exaggeration or joke about it. Throughout middle school and high school, I had a decent amount of friends and TONS of acquaintances. I assume people would have described me as outgoing and the “life of the party.”
I bet you’re asking yourself, “what happened?” Well, around my junior year of high school, my mental health hit an all-time low. I pushed everyone out of my life, even if they fought hard to stay in it. Having friends felt pointless and required too much time and energy for my frail body/mind to handle.
Now looking back, this was a terrible mistake but also turned into possibly my biggest blessing. Now at 20 years old, I have 2 or 3 friends, excluding my significant other, and that’s good enough for me. This isn’t my point, though. I am writing because I learned some valuable lessons that will stick with me forever. I want to tell you what I have learned from having no friends because I learned a lot.
Number 1: You need to be confident, and if you aren’t, learn how to be.
Being alone is not easy. When you are alone, all you have is yourself and your thoughts, and if you are like me, your thoughts are not your friend. Being in solitude all the time tests how happy you truly are and what you feel about yourself. If you hate yourself, being alone is going to be such a learning curve.
If you relied on those friends for validation and reassurance all the time, now you have to do those things yourself. Learn this confidence day by day; it will make things so much easier. Be confident that everything is happening for a reason, and always wake up, look yourself in the mirror, and say, “today will be a good day.” Positive self-talk and affirmation go a long way when you are on your own.
Number 2: You begin to appreciate the small things more.
When you’re alone, you are not distracted by as many people. You become familiar with the idea of not always having to be doing something. You don’t have a lot of plans anymore, so when you do go out, you realize how beautiful everything is. Those nightly car rides become your best friend. Coffee trips are like a mini-vacation, and seeing family is a holiday.
Number 3: Makes you realize that friends are kind of exhausting.
When you go from hanging out with people every weekend and multiple hours a day to nothing, you realize just how exhausting friends are. Having friends means you have to constantly be there for them, listen to them, love them, spend time with them, get them gifts on holidays, birthdays, ext. Being alone for this reason alone can be so relaxing. Honestly, it is a weight off your shoulders in a sad way, which makes the thought of making friends again, not so enticing.
Number 4: Making friends again will be hard… AND awkward.
If you go three years without any friends, you start to lose your skill in making them. You become a stranger to social skills. Not entirely; you still see family and talk to people in the Starbucks drive-through, but making conversation with someone in the hopes of hanging out now and again is terrifying and hard. You’re going to have to learn this process and take it slowly. If you try and jump back into it too aggressively, you can come off as clingy, needy, and even pathetic.
Number 5: You’ll get to know the real you. Your wants, needs, desires, and goals.
Often, we rely on others for validation, approval, and turn towards others when we need answers. When you are alone, this is not an option anymore. You have to trust your gut, believe in yourself, learn to answer for yourself, and make yourself happy. You learn to entertain yourself and are forced to love yourself because no one is there to do it for you.
Number 6: Being alone isn’t always sad, but it can be.
Being alone is great when you need to recharge and calm down, but being alone all the time can get very sad. You need to be okay with the sadness and loneliness and learn how to manage it.
Number 7: Achieving goals is way easier.
When friends always surround you, you are constantly bombarded with plans and activities; therefore, you don’t always prioritize your goals. I mean, who wants to go to work rather than go to the movies? When you are alone 24/7, you have plenty of time to focus on what you want and go after it. No one is stopping you or putting in their two cents. You suddenly have all the time in the world to start the things you “didn’t have time for.”
Number 8: You become a better person and friend.
You have a lot of time on your hands to think about what you did right and wrong in your last friendships and, therefore, what you can do better. Truly understanding your strengths and weaknesses as a person is so essential to growth.
I need to clarify that even with all these positives and lessons learned, I am in no way pushing you guys to be alone. Being alone is not for everyone, and most of the time, not all that healthy. It is okay to be alone; it does not make you pathetic. It makes you comfortable in your own presence and welcoming of change, questioning, and solitude. All I am saying is if you find yourself at a place in life where you end up alone or need to be alone, it is okay. You will be okay, and you will probably come out of the situation more level-headed and stronger than ever.