How to be your own best friend

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Taking a walk while listening to music or an audiobook can be helpful when you need time to relax and unwind.

By Sarah Rose, Lifestyle Writer

Being alone can be scary sometimes, especially in college when making friends may seem almost impossible. However, being alone doesn’t mean that someone is lonely; there’s a difference. Here is the ultimate guide on how to be alone and be OK with it.

DEBUNKING BELIEFS

Being alone and being lonely may look the same, but there’s a stark difference. Being alone is when someone is physically by themselves and not with anyone, but being lonely is a state of mind where someone may feel a sense of not belonging or may feel disconnected from others. A person can feel lonely when out with friends, although they’re not alone.

Being alone in a crowd full of people who all seem to know each other does not make one a loser. Students may feel that others are judging or silently laughing at them for being by themselves, but they’re not. 

Most people tend to not care when someone is out doing something on their own because chances are those people have been in public by themselves too. Naturally, people will care about and focus only on themselves, therefore students shouldn’t feel self-conscious in a public space. 

Humans are social creatures that need other human interaction, but it’s not necessary all of the time. Being your own friend can have benefits, such as trying new things without fear of judgment and connecting with yourself. Every single person finds themselves alone at some point in time, and the best thing that can be done is to practice being comfortable in solitude.

TIPS

Watch the media that you’re consuming. Social media is loved until too much of it is absorbed. Apps such as Instagram and Snapchat can cause more harm than good to a student’s mental health. 

Social media comparison can lead to feelings of worry and anxiety, as people may start to question why they’re not experiencing the events or opportunities they see on their screens. 

When doing things in public by yourself, try not to visit social media apps. For those who feel themselves going down this path, take a break from social media and mute or block people who are starting to evoke a fear of missing out. To take comfort in being alone, do activities that are enjoyable and will keep you occupied. 

One of the best things students can do while alone is to take themselves out on a date. Going to a coffee shop, bookstore or simply taking a walk around campus is a great way to increase mental strength, according to psychotherapist Amy Morin

NIU students had a few creative self-date ideas as well.

“I like walking around and listening to audiobooks,” said Andrea Flores, a sophomore health sciences major. “I’m a very introverted person so once my social battery is done, spending time by myself is really important.”

“When I’m by myself I paint and do a lot of crafty things. I also watch a lot of true crime documentaries and TV shows,” said Allison Zaker, a junior accounting major. 

The secret to being comfortable while out in public is to have confidence. Turn that discomfort into a strength and remember that being alone allows for a better understanding and liking of one’s self. 

TAKEAWAYS

Learning how to sit in the discomfort of one’s own company takes a lot of strength and patience. All anyone can do is their best, and practicing being comfortable while alone will make it easier for the future. 

For those who feel like the loneliness won’t go away, don’t be afraid to seek help. NIU’s Counseling and Consultation Services provides mental health support and is located in Room 200 in the Peters Campus Life Building. They can also be reached by phone at 815-753-1206.