The Difference Between Being Alone & Enjoying Your Own Company

Her Voice

"Our generation loves bragging about being antisocial, cutting people off, and not trusting anyone. Like that's an accomplishment."

I came across the above meme the other day and was instantly reminded of when I silently declared, "My cut off game is too strong." And honestly, loyalty and friendship are things I struggle with.

I'm not the girl running around excusing my flakiness, selfishness, and, at times, unwillingness to do things on other people's terms with a stale, "It's hard for me to maintain friendships with women."

I acknowledge that I am a work in progress. I have control issues and sometimes fail to see why others won't live their lives in a way that I think works best. Also, I don't like the idea of being dependent on too many folks for emotional fulfillment. But as of late, I've witnessed a lot of people taking the idea of independence to the extreme. It's almost as if being anti-social is the way to be, and I honestly think it's because the idea of friendship as I used to know it has been somewhat warped.

A cousin that I'm super close to called me up the other night and I found myself looking at the caller ID and instantly becoming exhausted. I wasn't surprised that not even ten minutes into the conversation, I found myself smack in the middle of an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole of who posted what on Facebook and who's blocked from her page. I couldn't fathom how folks in their late twenties with children and adult responsibilities were cutting off relationships and catching feelings over a social media app. It's as if many of us have completely lost sight of the fact that friendship is about more than "likes" and "tags" and these relationships we're proudly ending were pretty shallow in the first place if their fate rests on a status update.

Here's something to consider: There's no need to proudly claim how independent you are.

This idea of any real independence is overrated if you're supposedly getting your independent woman on in a room full of strangers, but constantly craving some sort of digital connection with people you forget exist unless they update their status. I have a friend who every once in a while, whether we're making travel plans for the summer or talking about a reiki convention we'd like to attend, feels the need to remind everyone that she has no issue doing things by herself.

But this same friend constantly feels the need to update her digital circle on everything she does alone. So the whole time she's enjoying her own company, her social media is bombarded with pics: "Chilling with my rose quartz. #PeaceAndSolitude #NeedMySpace #SelfCare." In conversation with colleagues or casual acquaintances, I've also witnessed other women who when they mention they had drinks at a bar after work alone or went to a music festival feel the need to proudly proclaim, "I went alone and I'm OK with that!"

My question is, when did the ability to do things on your own become such a badge of honor?

I wonder if a culture that places pressure on people to be surrounded by friends and followers all the time, makes some feel the need to declare they are able to enjoy their own company. But with that I wonder, are folks simply just doing things alone to prove a point or truly enjoying their own company? If you're so hype to go to a music festival alone, why are you looking down in your phone the whole time? Why update your status with memes about the joy of canceled plans, if you can't spend time with yourself while sober?

As I grow older and reevaluate my personal friendships, I'm recognizing the importance of maintaining quality friendships that don't require so much work, as well as the value of truly enjoying my own company, which means not needing friends in person or online to validate my time. Maintaining friendships as an adult can be difficult and I love the memes that remind us that many of us are out here juggling full-time jobs, families, career ladders and side hustles, and are just plain tired at the end of the week. A few days without a phone call from your day one just so she can hear herself think shouldn't result in you getting your Tom Hanks in Castaway on feeling the need to declare that you can do bad all by your damn self.

It's okay to miss people. It's okay to feel lonely and it's okay to be alone. And there is a difference.

I need at least one night where I'm alone with my hookah pipe, blasting Ella Mai in my eardrums, and focusing on nothing but my inner peace. But if I'm buying tickets to see "Boo'd Up" performed live, you can bet I want my bestie right next to me belting out the lyrics off key. The ability to enjoy your own company means dealing with thoughts, feelings, pain, and pressure that we all too often distract ourselves from with working hard and playing harder. You know when Solange sang, "I ran my credit card up. Thought a new dress make it better"?

I really felt that shit.

We can all relate to distracting ourselves from insecurities, feelings of failure, and anxiety. We want to be at anyone's bar or in anyone's bed just so we don't have to deal with the mess that can be our feelings. We fill our lives with shallow friendships and temporary moments of happiness just to avoid being honest with ourselves. We attract people we feel the need to impress and prove things to with regularly posted Instagram stories because, outside of a wi-fi signal, they have no idea of who we really are.

But the one thing I've learned is that when I truly was able to enjoy my own company and accept myself, flaws and all, I attracted quality people in my life that were down for me whether I was logged in or out living my best life.

I also became aware of the fact that adult friendships don't require day to day contact and was easier on friends who were simply too busy to call or hang out regularly.

I had time to deal with my own issues and stop distracting myself from them by doing the absolute most.

There's no shame in proudly declaring "Me, Myself and I," but don't sell yourself short on making authentic connections with folks just because things fell through with fake friends. And even the best of people in your circle will come with their share of disappointing behavior. There's a balance when it comes to maintaining healthy relationships with yourself, as well as others, and it's like Donald Glover recently said, "You can totally love somebody and still look out for yourself."

The important thing is that you don't spend so much of your time invested into the lives of others that you become a stranger to yourself.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissons@xonecole.com

Want more stories like this? Check out these xoNecole related reads:

I Got My Girls: The Best Girlfriend Relationships On TV Today

Why Losing Friends is Not Always a Bad Thing

My Female Friendships Were The Most Heartbreaking & Loving Relationships Of My Twenties

The Benefits & The Beauty of Solitude

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