Commentary: It’s Okay to be Alone

Students have always been told to socialize, embody school spirit, and embrace school activities. And, out of concern that students will only concentrate on academics and not be able to communicate with others, parents have always desired that their kids balance academic and social endeavours. As a result of many institutions driving people to be sociable and rewarding them for doing so, people who aren’t as outgoing can often face exclusion and isolation.

Since being sociable has become a community standard, students who have poorer social skills or prefer to remain alone are at risk of suffering from mental problems such as anxiety and depression. A study published in the journal Health Communication illustrates a strong association between social skills and mental health, which was based on responses they received from people of ages varying from 18 to 25.

This issue infiltrates the high school scene, and Andover is no exception. Adapting to the culture of “squads” or cliques here at Andover has increased the pressure on students to be accepted by others. We can usually find people scrolling through their phones while walking on streets or sitting in Commons because no one wants to be considered alone or unpopular. I believe the formation of squads and cliques derives out of this very fact that we desire not appear to be lonely.

Because of the several misconceptions that people usually possess towards less sociable people, no one wants to be confined in the “antisocial” group. However, there’s nothing wrong with being alone, and people shouldn’t confront judgements because of their social preferences and misperceptions about others.

People who are less conversational are sometimes viewed as conceited by others. In my experience, I converse less not because I regard myself as superior, but instead, because I find it more relaxing to analyze and ponder the implications of other’s words. I am willing to listen to others’ thoughts, but am not always inclined to share my thoughts in reciprocation. People all have different ways of processing their thoughts—some would rather share it with others and seek constructive suggestions, while others would like to brainstorm everything quietly in their own world.

Additionally, lacking attendance to a large social group is not synonymous with timidness or unassertiveness. Sometimes, in order to blend into a certain group, you have to change some of your habits and behave in a way that’s similar to other people in the group. While some people have no problem with this fact, others, like myself, would prefer to only express their thoughts with their close friends to whom they have emotional attachments and can show their genuine traits to. Another possibility is that instead of chatting with people, they would rather spend the time on doing things individually, such as reading a book, or immersing themselves in classic music.

As many of us leave high school and step into the next chapter of our lives, we will gradually begin to appreciate the opportunity of possessing some alone time. Just as Albert Einstein realized in his later years, “I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.”

Candy Xie is a two-year Lower from Shenzhen, China. Contact the author at