Learning the Art of Being Alone

The battle between your bed and the drive to go out….

College is weird – you’re constantly surrounded by people, but you’re also so very alone. I suppose it’s because you’re on a campus surrounded by people your age, but when I’m at school I feel the need to be with people constantly – constantly hanging out or constantly just being with another person. However, when I’m back at home in New York I hardly want to leave my house and I oftentimes find myself enjoying the alone time. Why does this change exist? What changes when I step onto campus that makes me so eager to be social?

I’m a naturally social person, but I’m also a big fan of my alone time. When I’m  at school, I feel the need to remind myself that it’s okay to sit in your room in your bed and watch movies and clean your space and just chilling. I have to remind myself that that’s what I did nearly everyday of my month-long break – sit at home. I suppose that when I’m at home, though, I’m not confined to an 8-by-10 room. There’s something about being in the same space that makes you feel like some kind of loner. Going outside of your room requires you to make plans. It’s a conundrum, really.

There’s nothing wrong with spending a day to yourself. If anything, it’s healthy. Too much interaction is overwhelming. People get sick of each other, and friendships struggle. I love my friends and I’m sure they love me too, but everyone needs space. I also think that college functions on pairs of friends – your roommate being one of them. You’re basically set up with a live-in friend. When  that relationship struggles or your roommate has a different friend group than you, you’re alone in the room. When roommates are close, though, even when you’re watching Friends on Netflix, you’re never truly by yourself – you’re being social simply by existing. Because my roommate and I do have separate friend groups, I feel myself doubling the effort I put into my friends from out of my dorm. I don’t want to be annoying, but hanging out with them isn’t as easy as  simply turning to one side of the room and asking. It requires a text, a response, and then a slow formation of plans. It’s complicated and can feel contrived – when you rely on people who aren’t your roommate, planning becomes difficult.

I’m trying to figure out the difference between alone and lonely. As someone who defines herself as a fairly independent person, this is a new struggle. It’s something I’m learning to cope with and something I’m trying to weed through. In a campus full of people (similar to that of New York) I’m trying to gain my own sense of independence. Instead of my house, it’s my dorm room. The same stuff happens here as it does at home.

I’m sorry if this post feels jumbled – I’m working through the emotions as  I go.

xo Julia

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