Real Talk With Rebecca: The fear of being alone

(Illustration by Connor Rickermann/Daily Campus)

Silence scares me. Being alone is something I tend to avoid. For those who may have never experienced the fear of being alone, this all may seem dramatic, exaggerated or not make sense. But, it is a real struggle people with anxiety face frequently. It’s not that I feel the same fear as I do watching a scary movie; it’s different. I fear the feelings I will feel while being alone. I want to avoid the feeling of loneliness or overthinking.  

I think the number one reason I hate being alone is because I don’t get to actually be alone. For me, being alone means hanging out with my intrusive thoughts, stress and anxiety. While most people may find peace in being alone, I find war. I become at war with worrying about things that have not — and may not — ever even happen. It is so much easier to be surrounded by people. When I am around my friends, I am able to push my thoughts and anxiety to the side and worry about them later. This only works for so long, until my thoughts pile up and take over. Then, I start to feel alone while surrounded by people. That is a worse feeling than loneliness itself.  

I recently realized that I put so much pressure on my friends and family to be there for me, when in reality, I needed to learn how to be there for myself. I found myself feeling sad if no one was around to spend time with me. I would overthink this even more, wondering why no one was around. But, it wasn’t any of my friends’ faults. I was really just sad I had to be alone. 

Finding things I could enjoy while also being alone was something I found to be helpful. A new Netflix show or a book I could get lost in are both things I could enjoy with no one else around. My goal is to replace the feelings of loneliness with enjoyment. I also try to make my lonely space a place of comfort. Whether it is lighting a candle, putting on some mood lighting or making sure to keep a clean room, having a comfortable space to be alone in is a true game changer.  

My therapist told me once to just feel it. Feel the feelings you are so scared of for just a short while. Get through the loneliness you are so scared to feel. If you feel like you might cry, just cry. Let all the feelings happen. Pushing your thoughts away just means they are going to come back later. Although it is hard, experiencing the feelings as they happen becomes easier in the long run. Once you get through it, you will realize it is just that annoying brain of yours overthinking the smallest things. Next time you face the fears of being alone, you might find it a little less hard; maybe one day you might even enjoy it. 

At the end of the day, the only person who can never leave you is yourself, so learn to love you. I’m learning too, it definitely doesn’t happen overnight. 

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