There’s so much pressure to be doing things, going out, meeting friends and having fun. And, with social media, the pressure has increased, knowing what other people have been up to, all their busy social schedules and lots of activities planned way in advance. There’s almost a sense that if you are not out and about, you can’t possibly be enjoying yourself. But is that really true? Can’t you be happy and content on your own, doing things that you actually find fun? Or doing nothing at all?
When people tell me that they need to ‘be more sociable’, I often ask if that’s what THEY actually feel, or if it is what other people think about them. Most of the time, I get a similar answer: they’ve been told they need to make more effort, see more people, go out more, ‘do this do that’. If they ask themselves, most of them feel relaxed and content about staying in or doing things by themselves.
So where’s all that pressure coming from?
- Others can only imagine or assume what you are feeling. Perhaps your friends can’t stay alone and can’t even consider someone enjoying solitude. This is about them, not about you. They assume you feel the same as they would feel. They don’t know what goes on inside you.
- Social media pressure. The social photos can feel like a reminder of ‘all the wonderful things everyone else is doing’. But it takes only a few seconds to take a photo. What about the rest of the time? We don’t know what they are really feeling or if they are actually having fun.
- Big cities can be lonely. With so much to do and so many events on offer, some people assume that you’d need to embrace all that and be constantly busy. The reality is that’s impossible to do everything and it takes time to find the things that are meaningful to you.
- Work life can be extremely demanding and exhausting. Don’t forget all the energy and effort you put into your job. So, naturally, the idea of ‘just chilling at home’ can come as a huge relief. Many people have to interact and talk to many people everyday, so a break from all that can feel very welcoming.
- You are not lazy. If you are feeling tired and just would rather sit in front of the tv and relax, why not? It’s about looking after yourself and noticing how and when you need to slow down and recover.
- The need to belong. We are all part of groups and, consciously or not, we want to feel we belong. This can cause pressure, however old or young you are. If most people in the group do things a certain way, if they go out regularly, or go to certain places, you might feel it’s your ‘duty’ to go too. Sometimes being part of a group can feel like an obligation. However, if you are not up for it, try to find a balance and be clear about your choices.
Choosing to be alone
Not going out doesn’t mean you are antisocial, boring, weird or a loner. It means that you respect your personal space and choose to spend some quiet time by yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that. You can still find fulfilment, nourishment and even fun by being by yourself. It’s much more important to have choice and quality, than surrendering to friends’ pressure and doing something that isn’t meaningful to you.
Follow your instincts, listen to your body and feelings, and respect the moment you are in. It might not be the same as what others expect from you, but it is your moment, and your life.