I pride myself on being able to go at it alone.
I can eat alone, read alone, study alone, walk to class alone, live alone, and I don’t even need a large posse of my fellow females to go to the bathroom with me. In elementary school, I played on the playground alone. Throughout middle and high school, I liked sitting on the bus alone and eventually driving to school in solitude. Unlike many of my peers that crave social connection and high levels of interaction, I am often happy sitting alone with myself or with a few people. Large groups just make me nervous.
For example, when I first began college, I found myself becoming very anxious in busy, hectic places such as my campus’ cafeteria. I remember one specific time during my very first semester where I went to eat lunch (alone, no doubt), but when I entered the room, I found myself overwhelmed. People were milling everywhere, being corralled like cattle ready for feed. I was only a few weeks old in my college life, so I had no idea what to do. I couldn’t just sit down where I wanted because I feared I would be sitting in someone’s “spot.” Of course, I could eat alone, but I would be lost in a sea of unfamiliar faces. After standing for what seemed to be an eternal thirty seconds in the midst of chaos and doom, I grabbed a styrofoam tray, got what I wanted to eat, and dashed out of the cafeteria and had my lunch on a bench. It was awkward, and that experience has stayed with me, even though it happened almost two and a half years ago.
Though that awkward, panicked moment lasted about thirty seconds, it somewhat imparted to me the value of having someone along for the ride. Yes, I often desire to work alone when group projects are called for and I would rather hash out a term paper in quiet, but total isolation can never be a good thing. It’s when we’re alone when we realize this.
After all, it’s probably better to be a panicked group of two in a crowded cafeteria than to eat lunch on a bench.