It’s okay to be alone. It’s okay to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner by yourself. It’s okay to walk to class by yourself and sit by yourself and study for your exams by yourself, too.
College is inherently a social environment. You live with someone, you eat in a public setting, and your classes are packed. Between clubs and sports and just goofing around, you’re constantly surrounded by people. It’s easy to form a squad and stick with those people every waking minute. For some people, alone time can even be something they seek out, rather than something that occurs naturally. It can feel like you can’t go anywhere or do anything without a friend tagging along.
At first, I was incredibly grateful for the socialization that college brings. As an extroverted person who craves human contact and attention, living at home with no siblings or friends was isolating, even with social media to keep us connected. I welcomed having a roommate to talk to at all hours and friends I could do anything with. It kept me sane; it kept me out of my own head and grounded in reality.
But we’re adults now, even if we don’t feel like it. College presents us with an opportunity for independence like we never got when we lived at home, and yet most of us struggle to fill that void with company. For the first semester or so, I stressed out when I had to go to the dining hall alone or study when none of my friends were around. I’m sure everyone has had moments where they would rather rearrange their schedule to do something with a friend than go by themselves. As adults, we need to learn to embrace the independence that we’ve been granted. It’s not easy: eating or going to the library or doing anything public without a partner can feel awkward, like everyone around you is judging you. But everyone else is much too busy with their own lives to look down on you for going on a solo shopping trip.
The simple act of doing something on your own can be terrifying, but it can also be invigorating. I appreciate my alone time in the mornings when I can enjoy my breakfast while scrolling through Twitter instead of making stunted conversation with an equally sleepy friend. In the “real world” you’re not going to be surrounded by people on the same schedule as you, and you don’t need to be. You can do things by yourself. It’s best to get used to it now, when you still have the opportunity to partner up if you’re feeling particularly lonely. Learning to be independent – not just from your parents, but from everyone – is one of the most valuable lessons college can teach you.
It’s okay to be alone. It’s good to be alone sometimes. So be daring: make that trip to the dining hall, even if there’s no one around to go with you. Go to the library and immerse yourself in your work rather than chatting through your studying. You’ll thank yourself in the future.