They say college is the time to embrace new ideas, hobbies, and experiences. What a lot of people don’t mention about college is that you can end up spending a lot of time alone. Whether you’re used to being surrounded by people or you’re used to being by yourself in high school, college can be an interesting adjustment for your social life. Here are my three reasons why it’s okay to feel alone now and what will/won’t change once you get to college:
First, I’ll give you a brief overview of my social life in high school. Like some of you, I was almost always surrounded by people because of classes, various extracurricular activities, and church. I was interested in a lot of things, so I went around different circles of friends, but they felt more like friendly acquaintances. Even though it seemed like I knew a lot of people, my family often found me crying at home at the idea that I had no friends. To sum it up: I enjoyed spending time with people, and I didn’t like the idea of being by myself…ever.
So why is it okay? In high school, it feels vital to have friends. If it doesn’t feel vital to you, that’s cool, too! I’ve learned that in college, it doesn’t matter what you’re interested in, because college is the time to embrace your hobbies. The high school world might feel small, and the great thing about leaving is that you can decide what you want to do with your time without the feeling of judgment or anxiety that your friends will alienate you. If you feel alone because the people around you aren’t interested in the same things you are, that’s okay! Just do them anyway. People in college are generally very accepting, and if you genuinely enjoy your hobbies, you’ll become really good at what you do. They might even become handy skills in the future!
Another thing I’ve learned is that college is the time to learn to enjoy alone time. At this beginning of this year, I told myself I would eat at a sit-down restaurant by myself (pictured here on Instagram). It seemed like such a silly idea, especially since I told myself I would never do it. I knew it would be strange, but I wanted to experience it at least once. It turned out to be one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done. Again, it’s a little silly, right? But I think at some point in our lives, we’re going to feel the need to be away from people, and I didn’t know how to do that. I love being surrounded by others and enjoying people’s company – especially when there’s food involved – but eating by myself lets me enjoy my food, savor my surroundings, and think without distractions. In my experience, once you enjoy and appreciate spending quality time by yourself, you’ll feel more independent and ready to take on what’s ahead.
It can be a bit surprising that other people feel the same way, too. Even though all of us in college study different things and our futures bring us to different places, we all feel like we’re walking the journey alone. If you don’t like being by yourself now, and you don’t like the idea of it in college, then ask people if they would like to get together. I learned over time that I shouldn’t always be the one waiting on others to invite me to things. If I take the initiative myself to ask people to lunch or coffee, people will usually enthusiastically say yes, assuming they don’t have other plans already (and you’ve been polite to them). If you feel alone, it’s worth trying to take the initiative, because you learn how to reach out and care for others.
Though it’s still important to have friends in college, it’s also important to understand that feeling alone is part of the experience of growing up. Once you can enjoy spending time by yourself, it is very liberating. Leave me your questions/comments/thoughts below. I would be happy to read and answer back! You can also check out the last College Survival Guide post about habits you should start now to be successful in college here. Have a great weekend, y’all!
Image via Unsplash