Being Alone vs Being in a Group

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Image from Flickr by Joris Louwes

I’m an introvert — I like solitude, there is something about it that makes me happy. There is a possibility that you’re like me — or maybe you’re an extrovert.

For those that are not familiar with the words ‘Introvert’ and ‘Extrovert’, basically an Introvert is a person who likes solitude, while an Extrovert likes to mingle in groups.

According to some psychologists, there may be actually some differences in how the brains of both are wired. So … it may be that we are either born an introvert, or an extrovert. If you’re somewhat in between, they’ll call you an ambivert, lucky you.

The title of this post is ‘Being Alone vs Being in a Group’, noticed I didn’t make it ‘Introverts vs Extroverts’ Not only it is unjust to compare two groups of people base on some differences they may have — it also counterproductive. After all, Introverts and Extroverts are the same also, if we look upon the fact that we are all human beings.

But hey … wait a minute. An Extrovert is an individual also right? And, an introvert like me can also be part of a group. So what’s up with the title, you may ask.

In what follows, I’m going to highlight some of the advantages of being alone, and also that of being in a group. It’s nice to look at other people’s point of view from time to time.

So, if you’re an introvert, you’ll be shown what advantage there is to being in a group. And … if you’re an extrovert, you’ll see why being alone sometimes is advantageous to you as well.

Advantages of Being Alone

  • You can do what you want without other people telling you what to do.
    Can you remember a time when you’re out for lunch with a group of friends? If you’re not vocal about what you want, you may find yourself just agreeing to what your other friends suggested, even if you don’t like their choice at all.
  • You can focus at the task you are doing.
    While it may also be true that some people might enjoy work more if they are in a
    group — in general most work can be done more efficiently if the individual is left
    alone to focus on his task.
  • You can relax more when alone.
    Some people, whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, feel uncomfortable when being watched. When you’re all alone, no one is watching you and you can feel free to do whatever you want (such as raising your feet on a table to assume a more relaxing position). Another reason is that no one will be bothering you for a while.
  • Other people won’t hold you back.
    For example, if you finished your task faster than other people in your group, but you have to wait for them before you can proceed to your next task. You might feel that they are holding you back, but let’s say you can actually do the next task, though, it’s sometimes considered rude to leave people behind — well, it still depends on the context, like whether it’s a cooperative or competitive situation.
  • You can do some crazy stuff when alone.
    For instance, if you’re an adult who still likes to play Pokemon in your gameboy because it reminds you of your childhood.

    You can still do it — in private, without other people wondering what’s gotten into you, only because they find your preferred activity unnatural for an adult to do. Well … don’t take anything personally, it’s just their way of seeing things.

Advantages of Being in a Group

  • It is easier to get help.
    One of the primary reasons that our ancestors banded to form their own groups is because a group can provide help to a member that needs one. It all comes down to reciprocity. I’ll help you now, and most likely you’ll help me also when I need it.

    Also, when you’re in a group and need some help, other members of the group can call upon someone else inside or outside the group who can help you, if they are not the ones that can fulfill your need.

  • There is strength in numbers.
    Despite what some movies try to portray, like the myth of the lone hero who saves the day all alone — it’s common knowledge in business and in construction that there is strength in numbers (not taking into account other factors like financial, resource advantages, etc.)
  • You can learn from other members of the group.
    In a group, there are always individuals that have more experience, knowledge, or insight than what the rest of the group has — these individuals can help other members who are willing to learn from them.

    It is also true the other way around, the expert can learn from the non-expert, because he/she may see things that expert does not because it is commonplace to him/her.

  • A project can be completed more quickly.
    There are several reasons, one is like stated above that there is strength in numbers.

    Another one is that each person can specialize in his part of the project — for example, when building a house, there are painters, plumbers, electricians, etc. who’s an expert in their own areas.

    One more is that those in a group with more experience can guide other people in the group with less experience, so their work can be completed much faster.

  • Being in a group can be more fun.
    Even if I’m an introvert, I have to agree with this point. Have you ever tried going to the beach alone? It can also be fun eating out with a group because each member can tell stories or share experiences that can amuse each person in the entire group.

Notice that I didn’t mention the disadvantages of being alone or in a group. The reason is that by flipping the perspective we can already deduce the disadvantages. For example, in the advantages of being alone section — the third point is, ‘You can relax more when alone.’ We can relate that in a group, ‘You won’t be able to relax that much.’

Likewise, the first point of advantage when being in a group, ‘It is easier to get help.’ We can tell that when we’re alone, ‘It is more difficult to get help.’

All of the points I described above is somewhat common sense. The thing is … we sometime bypass common sense — only because we can stick to one way of seeing things without being aware that there are other alternatives as well. Yeah, it happens to me too, sometimes.

I hope you find what I’ve written insightful; if not helpful. Definitely, it’s not an exhaustive list, and there are more advantages in being alone and in being in a group. Can you think of some now?

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