“humans are social beings”
This one little saying seems to be the recurrent theme and reminder being thrown at me from every aspect of my life recently. And honestly, I don’t really agree with it.
I love my friends. I love spending time with my boyfriend or my family and going to social events where we’re all together having a good time. I also love catching up with an old friend over lunch or meeting new people. But what I love more is waking up early on a weekend, going to workout, grabbing a coffee, and coming home to my laptop, my favorite pandora radio station, my breakfast, and spending time by myself. And you know what, there’s nothing wrong with that.
More often than not, whenever I’m feeling down, unhappy, or even lonely, people will tell me to go out and be social. People think social interaction with other humans is always the solution to feeling shitty. You just broke up with your girlfriend/boyfriend? Go out and surround yourself with as many people as you can, so you can’t even hear yourself think. You’re feeling homesick and miss your friends back home? Go and hangout with your friends at school to distract yourself! You’re unhappy? You should get more involved. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that it doesn’t work like that for everyone.
For some people, immersing themselves in a crowd of people can make them feel more alone than ever. Sometimes, people have to put in effort to hang out with friends and talk and that can feel draining. And honestly, sometimes its hard to think or wrap your head around your feelings when you’re around other people who are giving you their thoughts and input on your situation. You see, I think most people assume that socializing and having a lot of friends = happiness and contentedness. And of course, that might be a successful solution for some people. But the reality is that some people aren’t social beings all of the time. Some people are social isolates and actually prefer alone time.
I’ve had many interactions with people where talking with them and having great meaningful conversation makes me feel a thousand times better when I’m feeling unhappy. But I’ve also had many situations where I’ve felt down and sat in the park, went for a run, driven to a coffee shop, read a book, or journaled my thoughts and felt immediately at peace and content again. And it didn’t take being social with another human to make me feel better.
I don’t think its that humans are social beings and need human interaction to thrive. I think what it comes down to is that humans just want to relate. People want to know what they’re feeling is normal. People want to feel like they belong to something or share similar thoughts. It’s about making a connection with something, whether its another human, nature, a book, your pet, a song —your own thoughts. What people often forget is that humans are not the only thing that can bring other humans a sense of relation or belonging. And sometimes, people connect with those other things more than they do with other humans.
So, the next time you “feel bad” for someone eating alone, or tell a friend they “just need to get out and be social” to feel better, make sure you understand that persons needs. Because that person may be perfectly content doing things on their own, or working out their feelings while being alone.
And if you are that person, remember that there’s nothing wrong with seeking out peace and happiness from within. Sometimes, that’s the only thing that’ll make you feel better.