Growing up, I think you could boil my greatest fears all down into one category: being alone. I feared having no one to hang out with, no one to text, no one to sit with at lunch, no one to come home to, no one to spend my life with, and no one liking me. This fear of being alone led to a miserable existence, and not just because I was always worried about being alone. Rather, this fear pushed me into doing things that I didn't really want to do, all to relieve my FOMO (or fear of missing out).

Coming into college, this fear was alive and well inside of me. It was an irrational fear, as I always did have people to do these things with in high school. The fear only heightened coming into college though, as I decided to come to a school 500 miles away with no one from my high school here with me. Unfortunately, this heightened fear was validated. For the first time in my life, I was actually alone. I witnessed all the Georgia friends and their high school cliques frolic around campus, seemingly happy as could be. I was forced to make random emergency friends left and right, throwing myself into any relationship just so I wouldn't have to feel alone.

So where did that leave me? Well, for the time being, deep in my soul, alone. It forced me into a place that I had never been before, and I was not happy about it. I spent a lot of time feeling like a loser, feeling like I didn't belong here, and feeling like I had no direction with my life. After some days reflecting on myself and my situation, I finally realized that it wasn't UGA and those around me, but it was myself and my inability to really understand who I was as a person, and hence what I wanted out of my time here.

After coming to this conclusion, my life here changed. It sounds cheesy and cliché, but all widely applicable things do. Spending so much time on the go, trying to hang out with people constantly, and never getting a second to be physically and mentally alone, it's actually so important to take time to yourself. People will always tell you that college is the biggest growing experience of your life. Things are constantly happening around you that challenge the way you think, operate, and socialize. But, in order for actual change to occur, you have to take some time to yourself and process what is actually going on around you.

The day I stopped running from solitude was the day I finally began living. I became more accepting of myself and those around me. I became happier and healthier. And, I started loving college more than I ever imagined. Now, don't take this as me saying I have no friends and sit by myself all the time. Those who know me know that I am constantly hanging out with my friends and on the move. This just makes it all the more important to take the spare time you have to yourself. College will exhaust you if you don't.

So, to everyone who has a chronic fear of loneliness-- confront it. If you spend your whole college career throwing yourself into a meaningless situation to avoid having a real reflection and conversation with yourself, then you have wasted four of the most influential years of your life.

Growth does not come without pain. Embrace it.