Its Time We Realize Solitude Isn't A Bad Thing

Its Time We Realize Solitude Isn't A Bad Thing

I spend a lot of time by myself but that doesn't mean I'm a "loner".

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If you see me on Temple's campus, nine times out of ten I'll be alone. I walk to class alone, I get lunch alone, I go to the gym alone. I like being independent and being with myself and I shouldn't be judged for doing so.

In college, we are thrown into an environment where everyone has a different schedule and we're all worried about our own shit. It's not like high school, where you have limited responsibilities and you see the same people every day for four years. College is ever-changing and everyone is growing up and working towards their own goals.

If you're not a very social person, like me, this makes it hard to socialize and make friends. And even when we do make friends, it's not like a high school friendship. It's an "I'll see you when I can" relationship. It's an adult relationship, which is perfectly valid. We still have friends, we're just not with them all the time.

This came as a shock to me at the beginning of the semester, but I have learned to accept it and even enjoy it. Initially, I felt extremely lonely and like an outcast. All I saw around me were people laughing with friends every day and going out to parties with them every weekend. I'm naturally an introverted person and I know alone time is essential for me, but I still felt like I was doing something wrong.

I have been told by my therapist and dietician that, mentally, I am extremely mature for my age, almost like I am already an upperclassman even though I only just started. As a result of this disparity between me and my peers, I feel like I don't connect with anyone. Don't get me wrong, I would love to be a normal, carefree college student and have fun before I have to buckle down, but I just don't resonate with that. I see people going out and having fun with friends and I totally wish I was right there with them, but forcing myself to do something I don't naturally want to do would make me inauthentic.

As time goes on, I continually realize that I don't have to have a huge group of friends to feel accepted and loved. I have a few close friends and a bunch of people I am friendly with and that's okay. Because of this, I have had more time to explore myself and how I can make my college experience the best for me, while also preparing for my future.

I still get lonely. I still wish I felt like I fit in. But I know there are people like me out there somewhere and, although I like being alone, I will always be open to making new friends. I just need my solitude. It's my self-care and its what I like. I know I'm not the only one.

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10 Things I Learned From Growing Up In A Town Smaller Than A College Campus

A town straight out of a country song.

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With a population of just over 1,000, my hometown has given me so much in my 19 years of life. It's taught me things I would've never learned anywhere else (whether that be good or bad).

1. You know everyone and everyone knows you

This is so true, especially if you're a part of a big family. You're not only somehow related to everyone, but everyone knows which family you belong to. I can't go anywhere in town without at least one person recognizing me (which isn't a bad thing). If you were in the newspaper, there's a slight chance that multiple people will tell you as soon as they see you.

2. High school sports (especially football) are no joke 

As someone who cheered for four years, there's truly nothing like home football games. The sound of the crowd roaring behind you, the tunnel at the beginning of the games, and the sunsets gleaming onto the field. My senior year the football team almost went to state for the first time in 22 years. It was a HUGE deal for the community. The football players were like local celebrities and it was such an exciting time for everyone. There truly isn't anything better the spirit that surrounds small-town sports.

3. High school homecoming is a big deal for everyone

Unlike larger schools, basketball and football homecomings in my small town were like one big reunion for everyone. We have an elaborate theme for each homecoming and the Stu-co spent all day decorating it. The gym and sidelines were usually packed with people coming home to see old friends, to find out which candidate gets crowned queen, and to cheer on the athletes.

4. You live about an hour from just about everything

When I tell my college friends that I live an hour from the nearest Target, they think I'm joking. I'm being completely serious. If you needed some new clothes and shoes for school you had to make a whole day out of it. You also tried to schedule all of your doctors' appointments around the same time so you didn't have to make so many trips. An idea of a family outing meant going to a nice restaurant in "the big city" and seeing the newest movie. Something fun to do with my friends meant driving 30 minutes to get coffee, Sonic, or even just fooling around in Walmart. If we were really desperate, we even cruised the backroads listening to our favorite music.

5. You have so much respect for farmers and agriculture

I come from a family of farmers and my good friends in high school were daughters of cattle and dairy farmers. The farmers in my town are some of the kindest, smartest and most hardworking people I will probably ever meet. Seeing agriculture work in and out of my town has caused me to have so much respect for farmers and the industry. I've been caught behind a tractor and learned the hard way to not stop close to a stop-sign if a semi is turning my way. Yet I truly wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

6. High school relationships can get a little tricky

Dating in a high school of 100-something people was pretty hard. They were either related to you, taken, or like a brother to you. If you did find someone to talk to, there's a 90% chance that they've also talked to one of your friends. Most of the drama in my high school was an effect of someone dating someone else's ex.

7. You know everyone you graduated with

You don't just know them, you really know them. You know their full names, what their families do for a living, and who showed up at their kids' sporting events and who didn't. When you graduate with only 30-something other kids, it's hard not to know everyone on a super personal level.

8. When times get tough, people are always there for you

When a family of the community suddenly lost a loved one, the community immediately wrapped their arms around them and comforted them. Whether it was bringing meals to the grieving family, selling memorial T-shirts and bracelets, housing benefit dinners, or just being there for the family. If you were going through something heavy, someone always had your back.

9. You feel so loved coming home from college

I remember sitting in a lecture hall half the size of my hometown on the first day of classes and feeling overwhelmed. I thought, "How is anybody supposed to make friends at a college of 35,000 people?"

The first night home from college, I was welcomed home with open arms by everyone. I was reunited with former teachers, coaches, classmates, old friends and adults of the community. As much as I love college, it was so nice coming home to a place where everyone knows me.

10.  You couldn't of asked for a better upbringing

As much as I was ready to move to a bigger place after high school, growing up in a small town was the best thing I could ask for. It gave me a sense of community, support, and love that I wouldn't have been able to get elsewhere. My town sent me to college with enough support and encouragement to last a lifetime.

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If You Fill Every Minute Of Your Schedule With Work, You'll Feel Discouraged, Not Accomplished

Our feelings have more power than we think.

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When we start doing work, we set out with the point of trying to get it done. I personally set time brackets in which I do a certain amount of work. In this, I assume how much time something will take me and work as efficiently as I can to finish in the allotted time bracket.

However, once in a while, the work takes me much longer than anticipated and I become frustrated. I cannot get the questions right or there is just too much work to make sense of. All I want to do is give up and eat ice cream and even if I do this, I feel anxious about the fact that my work is not done. I feel stressed and that doing any type of work is of no use because I can't do it anyway. How can I get out of this funk? Sometimes I think I never will. Or is it that I don't want to?

All of us have had a moment of hopelessness about school, friends, or just life in general. I think that the best way to get out of it is to step back from the environment. When I am stuck on an Aleks problem (chemistry online homework) and want to scream at the computer, I just leave my desk and go for a walk. Trying to clear your mind of all the frustration and stress that is building up is necessary to see things from a fresh point of view.

We often are blinded by the frustration we feel and that disables our ability to take a breath and just work calmly. Feeling the overwhelming emotions makes us lose track of all the good things we have and if we allow it to, it will consume us for much longer than we imagined. Take breaks with your work and leave time for yourself. If you fill every minute of your schedule with work, of course, you will feel discouraged. You will be burned out. Every time you notice yourself becoming angry, do something to calm yourself down. Our anger has the power to destroy us, but only if we let it.

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