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

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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