Gender & Identity, Life

Here’s why I’m totally proud to be a homebody

Honestly, surrounded by masses of people with no space to breathe is when I feel loneliest. Lost, even. For a long time, I thought that was a problem.

I’m not a people person. Never have been, never will be.

Don’t get me wrong, I like people. Meeting cool, new people is always great. But I don’t thrive in crowds. It can be almost painful for me to be among swarms of people and not know anyone. I have to force myself to approach groups of people and initiate conversation. Many of my friends and family have an innate ability to socialize with anyone. It is just not natural for me. I prefer more intimate social settings. I think one-on-one interactions are far more fulfilling. And honestly, surrounded by masses of people with no space to breathe is when I feel loneliest. Lost, even.

For a long time, I thought that was a problem.

It’s not. At least, it’s not a problem for me.

Starting university was a stressful time in my life. Orientation week was probably my least favorite part of it all. The transition was already challenging and I know orientation is built to welcome students, introduce them to campus, and provoke friendships, but it was added stress for me. I was remarkably overwhelmed by all the events happening.

It should have been fun. The quad had an inflatable bounce house. There was free food and free shirts and music. People were mingling at every corner. It seemed people found their circles of friends so quickly and I was still feeling lost.

I didn’t feel a sense of belonging yet. Rationally, I knew almost everyone has this experience of uncertainty and insecurity. Emotionally, I felt alone in my disconnect.

I wasn’t spending every night until two or three AM in the common room loudly playing video games or ping pong. I didn’t want to be at parties all the time, struggling to breathe and move in crowds grinding and sweating in way too close a proximity. I don’t spend every weekend going out. And none of this is to say that I don’t enjoy going to a party and dancing with my friends every now and then. I do like the occasional fun night out at a movie or a concert. I don’t drink or anything but I have a good time going out with a group of friends I can trust.

All I’m saying is that I enjoy dance parties in my room just as much as anything else. I also kind of think that the infrequency with which I go out maintains the specialness of the experience.

I’m not a loner or a recluse. I don’t want to be alone all the time. I need human interaction and social activity. I love theme parks and cool museums and lakes. I love to ski and to hike and to explore. And I like to do these things with people, I do. I also like being by myself a healthy amount of time. And even when I’m not alone, I like low-key days spent lounging around with no specific plans. I prefer home-cooked food to going out to a restaurant and I prefer watching a movie bundled in blankets in bed over going to a theater. And I’ve been this way all my life.

So I’m a homebody. And that’s okay. I didn’t think it was at first, but it is. Once I accepted that about myself, I found myself feeling a lot more comfortable at school. I started worrying less and having more fun. It was unhealthy to think less of myself because I prioritize my sleep or because I love a good Netflix binge-watching session above a wild party. And now I take advantage of the events that do sound interesting to me on campus. I’ve attended cool, foreign film screenings, activist lectures, and small scale concerts. And a lot of times I go alone, and that’s also okay. Because I do things for me, and not anyone else.

So, if you’re like me, and you’re feeling like you don’t fit in, like maybe you never will, like maybe you’re meant to be hermit through these four years, I could tell you you’re not alone. But my guess is you already know that in your head and it doesn’t change anything. What I will say is to embrace it. Have dorm room dance parties. Take naps. Read on the quad. Take a walk. Work out. Go on adventures with just one or two friends. Go on adventures alone. Sing in the shower.

I’ve learned there is no shame in loving my own company. I am my own best friend. That doesn’t mean I don’t have non-me best friends. It simply means I have to love myself in order to allow others to love me. And sometimes that’s a process to learn how, but it’s the most worthwhile journey there is.

So, yeah, I love Saturday nights at home in my pajamas, chowing down on cookie batter and re-binging on Smallville or One Tree Hill. Those are some of the best nights. And that’s okay. It’s better than okay. There’s value in what I love, which means there’s value in me.

And I’m a happy homebody.

  • Amani Ahmed

    Amani Ahmed is a third-year student from Princeton, New Jersey, and is currently attending Duke University. On campus, she works with refugees and survivors of sexual assault. She is a fan of rollercoasters, skiing, and Netflix.