Thousands of college freshmen across hundreds of universities all have one thing in common; they feel the pressure to make new friends in college. Socialization is a large part of the college experience: we are always around others, so we have to be able to interact with them. This summer, I felt this very same pressure, and I wondered if I would struggle to make new friends. I have always been a shy person, usually reserved unless I was with people I knew. I did not really have high social expectations going into this first semester. I wouldn't say I have social anxiety, but I usually do not go out of my way to make conversation with people. I ended up surprising myself, however, because I found myself making conversation with people, which is something I usually would not do. I put myself out there and connected with people on my floor, people in clubs, etc. I made quite a few friends, many of whom I see in my classes and in my building. I am extremely happy with the friends I've made so far, and would not change them for anything. However, even though I enjoy spending time with my friends and being in the company of other people, I have also realized that I need alone time where I can just be by myself. I have also realized that I study better and work more efficiently when I am alone because it is easier to concentrate. Personally, I cannot focus when I am with other people and find myself being distracted. There are many places in the Rutgers NB campus where someone can go if they want to be alone. Dining halls, libraries, student centers, study halls, lounges, gyms, and green space/parks are all places where one can enjoy being in solitude. I usually like to eat breakfast alone and use this time in the morning to plan out my day and think about what I am going to do for the rest of the week as well. Using alone time for planning and thinking is very beneficial and can help get your day on track before it starts. The amount of pressure put on college freshmen to socialize and become friends with every person they meet is ridiculous and needs to be dialed down. It is completely OK to want time to yourself in college; being alone can give you the time to reflect on whatever is going on in your life, work on whatever you need to without the distraction of others, or even relax. There is a stigma surrounding people who like to spend time by themselves, making them seem weird or antisocial, which makes people feel uncomfortable and guilty when they are alone. This stigma needs to be dispelled and spending time alone needs to be normalized because it is often necessary for people so they can be at peace. The next time you feel like you need a break from socializing, don't be afraid to take it!
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