#1: it is important to maximize alone time
I grew up dreading alone time because of the way I was brought up. I moved around constantly and internationally during my childhood and teenage years, leaving behind many friendship groups I had built over the years. As such, I developed a strong fear of being forgotten and ending up lonely, which led to my needing company for almost everything that I did.
Yet heavy reliance on the presence of another often contradicts productivity. I could not expect to have a partner every time I wanted to go to the library, every time I needed to stay for a test or earn a certificate. I ended up losing a lot of productive hours due to my inability to find motivation without the company of a peer.
The COVID-19 pandemic enacted countless tragedies and inconveniences, but one thing it did teach me, although indirectly, was how to cope with being alone. I got used to working independently and became good at maximizing alone time; this is perhaps one of the most invaluable skills I picked up in the chaos of the global pandemic.
#2: friendship-building requires conscious effort in adult life
Making friends prior to high school graduation is relatively easy, especially if you have attended elementary, middle and high school in the same neighborhood with the same group of people. In such small environments, your peers have always been subconsciously aware of your existence over the years, even if you have never shared a class with them. You may have run into them in the halls or sat on the other end of the table during club meetings.
The same cannot be said once you move on to university or beyond. Even the smallest of universities are usually larger than the biggest end of high schools. Therefore, you need to put in conscious effort to see someone multiple times.
At work places, people come and go. They switch departments, or off-board to companies with better offers. Sometimes people even move countries or continents for better career opportunities. This is especially common amongst young adults currently entering the job market–most recent graduates do not stay put in a company for the rest of their lives and like to move around. Therefore, a lot more time, thought, and effort need to be put into keeping in touch with people.
#3: step out of your comfort zone… but only occasionally
We have all been told to “step out of our comfort zone” and to “challenge ourselves”, but how often we should carry out these activities is hardly ever spoken about. It may sound extremely progressive to challenge yourself every single day, but such practice is unrealistic. Being constantly put in an uncomfortable situation would make us feel discouraged from encountering it again; it could even lead to dread, or permanent avoidance.
Instead of exposing ourselves to fearful circumstances all too frequently, try doing it once or twice a month. Say that you would like to overcome your fear of speaking publicly. Instead of forcing yourself to speak up during every meeting, even when you have nothing to say, think of a well-thought and coherent answer and offer it in your next meeting, and do the same in one or two weeks hence. This way, you will not tire yourself from the exhaustion of having to think of something that sounds educated and articulate every time you have a meeting that you start to consider bailing the meeting. Make sure that you give yourself time to reflect upon the challenge you have accomplished and devour the satisfaction before you move on to the next one to tackle.