BRAVE column: Alone but not lonely

By Em Ivy

I think there is a certain art to being alone, reveling in your solitude. 

Varying degrees of aloneness exist, of course. There’s the “dancing around like no one’s watching” alone. The “screaming and crying to your favorite (insert indie artist here) song” alone. There is also the “I can no longer escape from my thoughts” alone, and that’s the one that many people seem to be afraid of — so afraid that they sacrifice the potential enjoyment in being alone just to avoid getting to that point of introspection and self-reflection.

Interestingly enough, I have a lifetime of experience with being alone for lots of different reasons: I grew up as an only child, I’ve lived with anxiety for as long as I can remember and after a while I just started to really like being alone. Maybe I just became so used to it that it became my norm, but enough about me.

This is for people who struggle with being alone, an entirely valid experience that I am here to help you through as best I can.

It’s important to make yourself aware of why exactly you are alone. It could be a personal choice to take a step back from being surrounded by people and sounds and the world itself, or the cause could be more situational. Maybe a friendship just ended and you’re trying to figure out how to stand for yourself again. Whatever the reasoning, use it to inform yourself on what to focus on when you are alone.

I’m an empath and a writer so this might sound biased, but journaling might be one of my favorite things to do during my alone time. Although you will find yourself alone with your thoughts, the piece of paper in front of you and the pen in your hand give them somewhere concrete to go (and stay). You can spill out the things clogging your mind over many pages, or you can simply write down one word about how you are feeling and leave it at that. The fluidity of journaling is the best part.

If starting off your time alone with something as navel gazing as journaling turns you off a bit, that’s OK. Being alone can also just be a time for you to do the things you usually do with other people by yourself. 

Instead of running errands with your entire friend group, hop in the car by yourself and listen to your favorite songs while you roam through the aisles of your favorite store. Revisit your favorite study spot on or off-campus and sit by the window with your favorite things laid out around you; for me, that consists of an overpriced iced coffee and any baked item that looks good to me at the moment. You can also do something as simple as sitting cross-legged on your bed and starting that book you’ve had “no time” to read. Or turn on a movie or TV show that makes you feel good inside.

Whatever the reasoning is behind your newfound aloneness, take that and shape it into something that goes deeper than just being without others. Your bed can be warm enough with just your body in it.

BRAVE is an organization that stands for “Believe Reclaim Advocate Vocalize and Educate” Our director, Talia Mason, and a selected group of trained peer educators focus on educating and informing the Xavier campus on gender-based inequality and violence through different workshops. The workshops are designed with prevention and interaction in mind to engage students in discussion surrounding these topics. Implementing BRAVE empowers survivors and students to take a stand. Follow BRAVE on its Instagram for more! @xavier_brave.