ADVICE: How do I become comfortable with solitude?


Maddie Barron

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By Maddie Khaw and Maddie Barron

Dear Maddies,

Ever since I started at Emerson, I’ve realized that I’m uncomfortable with doing things alone. I’m anxious to go places like the dining hall if I’m unaccompanied by friends, and I hate being alone in my living space without anyone with me. How do I become comfortable with solitude?


Lonely Lucy


Dear Lucy, 

Solitude can actually be a really beautiful thing if you utilize it correctly. Take me, for example: if you see me eating a bagel alone at the dining hall it isn’t sad, it’s Kafka-esque, and I’m just a tortured writer, cursed with isolation due to my ingenuity. 

Think of all the people in movies and television who are always alone; they make for the most cinematic shots! When I go to a lookout deck in South Boston and stare into the river by myself, it’s in a Kendall Roy way. That’s the allure of solitude, even on the off chance people are perceiving you, they’ll always have it stuck in their little loser brains that any of their assumptions could be wrong. Embrace that. Use it to your advantage. You can be everywhere and nowhere all at once (I swear to Christ almighty if anyone makes a reference to The Daniels I’m gonna rip my hair out. Next advice column is how to stop milking Emerson College alumni for all they’re worth).

Walk around in solitude with the intention of being unsolvable. Sit with your mind for a bit. If you need to, conjure up a moving picture of some Subway Surfers gameplay to make self-reflection that much more bearable. I promise, at the end of the day, the only person we can absolutely rely on is ourselves. Don’t let that turn you into a nihilist, though. Love exists around everything we do, but we forget that we can be included in that orbit. Go on a walk by yourself. See movies by yourself (my personal favorite). No one is looking at you as much as you think they are. 

With peace and love, 

Maddie B. 


Dear Lucy,

Unfortunately, I do not relate to your struggle. As I alluded to in last week’s column (give it a read), I am inherently better than everyone else, so I don’t really understand this desire to be constantly surrounded by those inferior to me.

But, alas, this is an advice column, so I suppose I’ll try to offer some advice. 

I think one of the reasons people don’t like being alone is because when you’re alone, you’re stuck with nothing but your thoughts swirling around in your head. Again, for me personally, this isn’t a problem, because I love hearing the sound of my own voice. But I understand why it might be aggravating, anxiety-inducing, and even torturous for others. 

Maybe your inner dialogue is driving you crazy, running circles around your head and nagging at all your deepest insecurities. Maybe when you’re left alone with your thoughts, your mind involuntarily reminds you of that embarrassing thing you said to your high school crush five years ago, or harps on all the ways you have failed in recent memory. Or maybe you start reliving the time in elementary school when a playground bully force-fed you wild mushrooms from the field during recess, leading to an aversion to mushrooms that followed you into adulthood, preventing you from enjoying mushrooms on pizza or in fancy pasta dishes. I wouldn’t know.

The key to avoiding these involuntary intrusive thoughts when you’re alone is by distracting yourself. I’ve come to enjoy time alone, because I just do little activities with myself. Paint your nails. Do a face mask. Go on a walk and listen to a podcast. Play a game on your computer. It should be something from your childhood, like Papa’s Pizzeria. Read a book. It should be something existential, maybe some Camus. Create a perfectly curated Spotify playlist for your specific mood. It should include both Lana Del Rey and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

I was grounded on and off for the better part of high school (pity me), which forced me to spend lots of time alone when I would’ve much rather been with my friends. At first, I resisted, and hated it. Like you, I never wanted to be alone. But with time, I came to value this time by myself.

The more you hang out with yourself, the more you’ll come to like it. It may be melancholy at first, but the beginning is the hardest part. And you’ll like it even more if you’re doing things you enjoy, things that take care of you. You’ll realize, importantly, that you don’t need other people to make you happy or to fill you up—you can do that for yourself. And once you realize that, alone time won’t feel so lonely. 

Sending solidarity in your solitude,

Maddie K. 

Need advice? Visit the story highlight on our Instagram, @berkeleybeacon, and fill us in on all the deets through our anonymous form. Xoxo, The Maddies