Our greatest accomplishments require time alone. If the young Einstein had been chatting with his buddies on that city trolley around a century ago, we still might not have the theory of relativity, and E=MC(squared) might be just another meaningless bit of formula that never attached itself to a concept. The Williams sisters have spent a lot of quality time with the ball machine, perfecting those killer shots. St. Augustine, Thoreau, Marx, and even the party boy of the 20th century, F. Scott Fitzgerald, used solitude to think, to dream, and to write ideas that shook the world.
If you're considering going back to school at whatever level, and you fear being cut off from your social life, bear in mind that in order to become the person you really are, you need to spend time with yourself. That old cliche' about loving yourself is fine, but what real accomplishment requires is that you really know yourself so you can open your heart and your life. Then your true self can been seen in the world around you through your work, not just your voice.
So many people worry about being alone. They fill their days and nights with movement and casual friends, labor and workmates, hobbies and trips to the gym, the beach, the hardware store, Acapulco, the sushi bar . . . And when they finally get home, they fill the air around them with their music, and the surround sound from the TV and the phone calls to more and more people as they try to fill every hour in the days to come.
Alternatively, why not turn off all the noise? Stop answering the cell phone for two days. No email for a whole weekend. Turn off the stereo and the iPod. Cancel a few social events and put the gardening and hot yoga aside for a while, and just see what you really think. Listen to yourself when you are thinking about something more important than your credit card balance, and get familiar with that voice.
That's the voice you'll hear a lot once you're back in class, because you'll be spending more time alone than you do now, studying, thinking, planning, and executing. Eventually in the educational process, each student discovers that solitude is both a treasure and a key that unlocks even more delights than those noisy people can ever imagine.