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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Alone does not mean loner

Published: September 21, 2007
Section: Opinions

I stand in the line at Usdan during the bustling Saturday Brunch. The buzz of students fills the room with a dull cacophony as I struggle to keep the food in my hands without using a tray. As I wait my turn to swipe my card, I eagerly look into the masses of people to find a place to sit. I have come to the cafeteria alone, and god forbid I should dine by myself. I cant find anyone I know, so I decide to take my food and sit at a table by myself. As I eat my meal by my lonesome, I cant help but feel that people are starring at me. It seems that some have a questioning look on their faces while others have complexions of pity. But really, there is nothing to be sorry about! I like dining by myself, I enjoy walking with no one around, I value the time that I spend with no one but me. I feel that our society stresses that people should do activities with others regardless of what they are. Sometimes, these impulses are strange, irrational, and just plain weird. Id like to take a shot at this topic so that maybe next time I dine alone, less eyes will fall on me.

Let's face it, whenever we see someone walk into a party by themselves, or travel with no one else, we place labels on them. We may think that they have no friends, and that is the reason why they could not find anyone else to accompany them. Others may believe that this person is a social outcast who has purposefully shunned interaction with others. These identifications are both unnecessary and wrong. Sometimes, when I do things alone, I just dont want to waste time finding someone to accompany me. An activity with more than one person always takes longer, and in our busy world, this is a luxury that many do not have. Other times, I just prefer to be alone. I am left to contend with my thoughts, reflect on the day, and have other positive outcomes from this solitude as well. I dont believe that I am a loner or have no friends;

I just realize the benefits of doing things by myself and hate to be looked down upon for this rational attitude.

If you really think about it, the things people do to try to be together with others are really imbecilic. I have seen dozens of people at Usdan crowd around two small tables in order to be near to each other when there were plenty of tables elsewhere in the cafeteria. I have witnessed people triple and sometimes quadruple up in seats on a bus just to enjoy each others company when there was plenty of other space elsewhere. On certain occasions, I have seen mobs of people move across campus in a slow moving pace while a person by themselves could have easily traveled faster. These types of activities and behaviors dont make sense to me. Why would someone waste time, feel uncomfortable, or experience a wide plethora of other negative consequences in order to simply be with people they know? It seems that societal conditioning is enough to outweigh common sense when dealing with these social scenarios.

In addition, many of the activities that people believe you should do with others, are in fact quite individualistic. Unless you are a movie talker and enjoy conversing at the theatres, I dont see why people have to see films with their friends. In addition, I have oftentimes seen a group of people (usually women, but dont mean to generalize!) go to the bathroom together. If youre going to convince me that the process of relieving yourself is bettered with the accompaniment of others, I would say that physical realities indicate otherwise. Even if the action does involve friends like eating, walking, or a variety of other activities, the primary reason for engaging in the business is not altered. Whether by yourself or with friends, food does not taste better, when with other people, your walk is not shortened (in fact it might take longer), and if you do a variety of other activities, the primary reason for doing so remains unchanged. The addition of people just doesnt rationally make numerous experiences better.

I hope that this article has opened up some new avenues of thought and helps to break down societal indoctrination. I wish that people will consider not needing to fulfill their social obligation to have others around. So next time your crowded at a table at Usdan, just think of this article, and how you could have been enjoying the great taste of an Asian Chicken Wrap all by yourself.