Alternatively titled, why is everyone having fun without me?
Public Service Announcement- Writing this post makes me feel raw and slightly uncomfortable, so please be kind.
Dear Twenty Somethings,
Some people are afraid of physical things such as spiders. If it makes you feel better, according to Scientific American we don’t actually eat 8 spiders a year, so take comfort in that at least.
Then there are the emotional scardey-cats like me. As far back as I can remember, my biggest fear has always been the idea of being alone (second of course to clowns because DUH! Have you seen IT?)
Summers are the easiest for me and make it almost impossible to feel alone. I’m blessed with a job that constantly keeps me busy, I am surrounded by friends and co-workers that I basically live with 24/7, and there’s always a child who needs me. I live for these summers, where I can see my greatest friends from my spot in the cabin or path.
The hardest part for me is leaving this comfortable environment at the end of summer. A few days into being back home and I feel desperately alone. The summer camp safety net disappears. My friends and co-workers are far away and those children don’t need me anymore. Once I’m not constantly surrounded by people, self-doubt and fear of being alone sink in. It’s hard to describe the crippling fears and feelings that come to light once I’m back. Alone now, I question everything- who truly cared about me, where do I belong, etc- while I watch everyone move on without me. It’s a brutal feeling and I’m still seeking a way to cope with it. It’s hard for me to be open and raw with people personally so, for now, I’ll do it for the whole internet to see
The self-doubt and questioning eventually lead to good things. Being alone forces allows you the room to explore and grow as a person. As much as I hate my tendency to overanalyze, it has given me the gift of self-understanding. I know that I can make it through this period of fear, and that thought makes me stronger.
What they don’t tell you about being alone in your twenties is that it provides you with the opportunity to define yourself without the pressures of everyone’s opinion. It’s easy to get stuck in the vision you have for your twenties, rather than to use the years to define your vision for the future.
Truthfully I’m never alone. I’m beyond blessed to have an amazing (albeit crazy) family. Whenever I get that alone in the crowded room feeling, I remind myself of all the people that make me feel less alone and that usually temporarily relieves the feeling. I’m grateful for them and the few friends that have honestly stuck by me over the past few years.
If you are scared of being alone, just remember that there are so many other people scared of being alone that just can’t admit it, whether due to fear, avoidance, or denial. It’s okay if you aren’t ready to share that vulnerable side with people you care about- most twenty-somethings aren’t. Gabrielle Hanna, the author of Adultolescence, expresses this sentiment much more eloquently than I ever could. I will leave you with her talk on the importance of saying “I’m not okay” because I’m still not brave enough to talk about it.
Here are my (unsolicited) pieces of advice for you:
- Use your alone time to figure out who you are and what you want from life. There is a lot of opportunity to grow in the face of being alone.
- Speak up about your fears. It’s scary and may not always turn out the way you want them to. Asking for help or understanding is brave, not weak.
- Listen to Gabbie’s advice. It’s pretty solid.
P.S. What are your biggest fears? Do you also feel alone? Feel free to talk about it in the comment section or by sending me a message through the “Contact Me” page.