Almost every time I got the urge to go do something, I didn’t know who to reach out to. My thumbs combed through my contacts but I could never stop on a single one. Would they get annoyed if I ask them to hang out? What if they said no? I didn’t want to bother them, but I didn’t want to be alone. By the time it was dark outside, I knew it was too late so I would just shut off my phone and turn to the closest distraction.
Long ago, I would jump at any opportunity to see my friends because I would rather be with someone than alone. I didn’t care what we were doing — I wanted to go. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I never had a best friend in high school, so the minute my sister took off to college, I became desperate to see my friends. I started falling down this rabbit hole; I wanted a significant other because I thought that it could replace the unhappiness that came with being lonely.
One time, I felt like I was going crazy. We had five snow days in a row and while I looked on social media and saw my friends meeting up and baking cookies, I was sitting there scrolling mindlessly. After a bit of time, even the scrolling was becoming repetitive and boring. Though I couldn’t stand being alone — when it came to junior year Hannah, she needed to be around people to feel like she had more value than just being someone with good fashion. Junior-year Hannah craved the look of being a social butterfly even though that stuff never matters in the long run.
Near the end of my senior year of high school, I was forced to find enjoyment. With the demand of keeping safe amid COVID-19, I had no responsibilities to fulfill — I had to find something to pass my time. I did things I had wanted to do but never felt like I had the time to. I purchased a penny board and skateboard, spending every night of the summer riding them until the sun set and the fireflies came out. I took my dad’s old jeans and my mom’s old shirts to the sewing machine and spent hours listening to its buzz, accidentally poking myself with the delicate needles just to create something new.
Eventually, I forgot I felt alone. I thought I could only be made of emptiness, but that was replenished with the contentment when I did my one ollie-of-a-lifetime with my board staying at my feet as I lifted into the air, or the satisfaction of my newly sewn pants fitting perfectly around my waist. I started realizing, through engaging in new activities I love, that spending time by myself could be enough.
Now when I want to go do something, I go do it without needing a friend by my side. While there are still many times I wish to go see my friends, I no longer say yes to every event I’m invited to because some days, I’d rather indulge in being alone.
MiC Columnist Hannah Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.