I don’t have that many friends. Well, I have a lot of “friends”: people I’m acquainted with and talk to from time to time. But I don’t have a lot of people that I hang out with often, am very close to, and trust deeply. Therefore, I consider myself a little lonely. I used to complain about it. A lot. And sometimes, it does make me really upset that I don’t have tons of people that I’m super close with, or a group of friends to spend everyday with.
But then I realized that the real problem is that I struggle to get close to people. The problem wasn’t that people don’t like me, I just don’t like people. On nights that I could be out trying to become closer with people, I’d rather stay in and watch Netflix. People ask me to hang out and I decline because I just don’t feel like it. And that’s the problem. I’d rather be alone sometimes. However, it doesn’t have to be a problem as long as I am able to come to terms with it.

During the last four or so years, I tried to surround myself with as many people as I could. I had so many friends. Looking back, though, I realize I wasn’t being myself. I took on a persona who loved to be around people in order to fit in. Because everyone else loves being around a lot of people, I decided to be like everyone else and do the same. But it wasn’t me. I realize how much happier I am now being alone because that’s how I prefer things.
I realize how miserable I was at every party. Being around people I don’t feel like socializing with makes me uncomfortable, and that’s how I was spending all of my time. Last time I went to a party, I was not happy being around people I wasn’t close to and dreamt of my bed the entire time. I wanted to leave so bad. Now I realize I don’t have to go to parties, I don’t have to put myself in uncomfortable social situations like that if I don’t want to.

All of this time, I had been surrounding myself with people who didn’t even make me happy just to be surrounding myself with someone, anyone. I was just wasting my time, though. Hanging out with those people wasn’t enjoyable at all, but I did it just to be around other human beings. Now, I refuse to do that to myself. This summer, I’ve only hung out with people who make me feel good, make me happy, and give me a good time. But I’ve spent a lot of time alone, too. And I’m far happier this way. This is the happiest I’ve been in a long time.

I don’t have to be around people to be happy. I’m happier laying in bed alone watching Netflix, being productive, or laying outside listening to music alone. I’ve realized that being in solitude is sometimes a better option for me and feeling negative about it helps no one. Don’t get me wrong, though, I experience “people moods” often, where I’m in the mood to be around others. It just took me a long time to realize that being alone is fine, maybe even better for me.

Lainey Shapiro

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