Rebecca Cohen | New York, NY
Here’s the deal – I can be fun. I have friends. I can dress myself up for a night out with the best of ‘em. When I venture out into the world, I have a good time, for the most part. But when push comes to shove, I would more often prefer to spend my time alone.
The assumption, especially living in New York City, is there must be something “wrong.” Why would a 20-something woman choose to stay in on a Saturday night? Why would she leave the party at 11:30 p.m. when there are hundreds of people and two more parties to go? What is she doing in that apartment all day?
Well, here it is – I am a creative and pensive person. I have, on more than one occasion, found myself with a cup of coffee just staring at my bookshelves, remembering where I bought each one and letting my eyes run leisurely over the spines. I cook, sing, journal and wonder about things like, “When did people decide that they could just own land?”. Then I’ll spend some time researching the answers in between online shopping spurts.
Sound boring? Au contraire. I can, and have, lived this way for two or three days at a time and I absolutely love it. I’ve gotten to know myself extremely well, and I’ve made myself a smarter and stronger person. I am most comfortable in my own skin when I’m away from other people. I’ve cried alone shamelessly at the theater, moved at my own pace through museums and gotten tickets to nearly sold-out Broadway shows (since there’s often a random single seat still available). Sometimes, I’ll turn off my phone during these activities, blissfully enjoying the quiet in a world that seems to never let us simply be.
And yet, there’s a world out there that claims life not spent out-on-the-town is not worth living. My first year in the city, I went all in seven days a week. I strived to have plans with other people outside of work nearly every single day. I burned out pretty quickly. I like to see my friends and check out new and old places with them. I just enjoy it on a smaller scale. I’ve discovered that two nights out in a row means two nights in to regroup. And those two nights out will never (ever) be at the party where I’m squished between 500 sweaty dancing strangers.
I still occasionally make up fake reasons on those evenings when I’d rather sit at home and binge watch TV in my pajamas. Though later on some of those nights, I find myself wishing I had left the apartment and joined the party after all.
It’s a tough call: the instinct to do my own thing mixed with the personal challenge of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Mostly, it’s about listening to what I need, whether it’s time alone or time with others, and going with my gut.