Edit Desk: The significance of solitude

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Allyson Wolloch

The first time I thought about the reality of being alone was when my sister, who also happens to be my best friend, left for college. What now feels like forever ago, my older sister was receiving acceptance letters from colleges and universities across the country.

Of course, I was incredibly happy for her because I wanted her to be successful, but every time she received an acceptance letter, she was one step closer to leaving. 

I was proud of her, and when other parents and friends would congratulate me for her achievements, I smiled and thanked them. What they could not see was that behind my smile, I was very nervous to not have her by my side.

I was not ready to have all of the attention on me. My sister was my guide and my safety net. When we would meet new people, she was always the one to talk. Not because I was too scared to, it was simply because she was the older one and that was her role. With her leaving, I had to become the person that carries conversation. On top of that, I had to be that person alone. 

More than just seeing her less or maybe our relationship changing in some way, it was the first time that I felt like I was going to be left alone, forcing me to acknowledge that I do not like to be all by myself.   

I consider myself an independent person for the most part. I can pretty much go anywhere on my own, like being by myself in a coffee shop for hours, but I hate to actually be alone. I thrive in group settings, I am an extrovert through and through. Whenever there are people around me, I find myself satisfied.

While I think many would say the opposite, I have come to realize that being alone is when I feel most vulnerable. 

Over time, I have learned that no one, even if they want to, can escape spending time by themselves. By turning being alone into a negative thing to be avoided at all costs, I lost the beauty that can be found when I am not surrounded by others.

Reflecting on the good, the bad, the complicated and the unknown by myself is what forces me to move ahead and helps me think through the decisions I make. 

When the voices of others were not filling my ears, I used to fill my head with my own messy thoughts, which at times became overwhelming. Now, I have learned how to manage my time alone as well as finding other ways to fill it. Instead of just sitting with my thoughts, I put my energy into exercising, listening to music, journaling and other hobbies.

The truth is, I am still learning how to take this once unsettling concept and make it a positive aspect of my life. 

While my sister will always be my guide and my safety net, her leaving for college sparked a new phase of self-growth for me. 

Allowing myself to see all the good that exists when I distance myself from others and sit with my own thoughts has taught me essential lessons. Setting aside more time to be by myself has made me more conscious of how I spend my time with others, the importance of untangling my inner thoughts and the strength that can be found in self reflection.

There is value in accepting the times and situations that make one feel weak and vulnerable. The constant fight to suppress the things that make you feel uncomfortable will inevitably become more exhausting than merely figuring out how to deal with the issues head on.

If you embrace the things that make you feel weak, I have seen that it can actually lead to becoming stronger.

Being alone can be a beautiful thing.

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