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one thing i learnt about holidays is that alone time is good time. sometimes it’s easy to get bored when you’re stuck at home and you can’t see your best friends every single day. i used to spend a lot of my holidays in different countries, depending where my dad was working at the time. this usually meant that i would miss out on so many things happening in my hometown. there were not always kids my own age, and even when there were, i was never overly interested. naturally,  my parents worried. was i a loner? was i a tormented recluse? yes, no and maybe. yes, i was a loner. no, i was not tormented. maybe i had tendencies towards acute recluse personality disorder*. i actually loved being alone. boarding school ensured that i was never alone during term time. holidays meant that i could be alone – and that was ok. being alone forces you to think for yourself. being bored forces you to create and invent. it helps that i love to draw and love to make things. but i think it all became true because of all the time i had to spend alone as a child. i discovered new music. i discovered new tastes. i was a person who could make decisions without the pressure of my friends. all this made me more interesting. anything that makes you different makes you more interesting. it’s natural to want to be part of a clique, but cliques are not good for your own development. friends, good. cliques, bad. of course, totally my own opinion. but to become a fully-fledged person, you’re going to have to go out on your own. learn to defend your own tastes. stand up to people who challenge your beliefs. you are never going to learn any of that running around with a clique. do not panic. i’m not suggesting that everyone read this and dump all their friends. but it’s ok to not hang out with them every second of your life. it’s ok to make new friends. different people bring different perspectives which, in turn,  create different opinions. can i also add that disagreeing is healthy.  it’s not about fighting, it’s about debating. i love a good debate. you may end a debate and still not agree, but that really doesn’t matter. it’s a test of friendship. a strong friendship carries on. you get past conflicts of opinion and agree that you are never going to agree on everything in life. of course, there are massive exceptions to the rule. at times these debates can reveal a person’s true colours and shed light on their complete ignorance of a subject. gender stereotypes, race, sexuality, religion or politics. discovering that someone is racist or homophobic and has absolutely no interest in seeing the other side or becoming enlightened is someone i would prefer to avoid. the sad truth is that these things do happen. you can also have time away from your friends and come back to find your eyes have been opened. they are not the fun interesting people you thought that they were. they suddenly seem backwards and provincial. lots of people who leave their hometown and return find this to be the case. this doesn’t mean that your friends are bad people. they can still be really, really good people who haven’t had the same experiences as you. my mother always said, beware of toxic and jealous friends. they will always hold you back and never want to see you do well. so best avoid those people. but hang on to the good ones. they will respect that you want time alone and they will always be open to your new ideas and experiences. treasure them and take them with you forever.

*i totally made that condition up

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