I Went on Spring Break Alone & Here's What Happened

There is one point in every college student's year that we always count down to: Spring Break. A whole week of drinking mimosas, tanning on the beach, partying and hanging with friends. Well, at least that's what we all hope for. Unfortunately, it doesn't always happen. 

I am a current sophomore at New York University and I, Isabel Lara Calkins from Rochester, NY, spent my spring break alone at my grandparents' house in Boca Raton, Florida by choice. There, I said it. (As if people couldn't tell from my lonesome Snapchat stories). Please, refrain from the pity because it actually was a really thought-provoking week. Here's the back-story:

Last year, I spent my freshman year abroad in London with NYU and I made an amazing group of friends. The program only had about 80 people so we were kind of forced to become friends so it was easy to find your people. I had a solid friend group of about 10 of us and we had so much fun together. I never had friends like that in high school so it was all very new to me. When it was time to plan our spring break, the obvious choice was Barcelona, duh. We packed our bags and headed for five days to Spain. It was your typical spring break with friends, partying, the beach, romance and everything you could possibly imagine. It was literally perfect.  

It was a great first college spring break and it made me so excited for all the other (three) breaks that I would have. But little did I know that it was a special circumstance. I mean who lives abroad their first year and goes to Spain for spring break?! No one. Well, except my friends and I, of course. Nonetheless, when we all moved to New York City this fall, I knew that things were going to be different. We were basically freshmen again but without the formal programs and awkward introductions. When classes began, I found it much harder to make friends than I thought. I really struggled with finding my crowd and many of my friends from London were doing okay on their own. 

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Once winter break came and went, it was time to start thinking about spring break. Most people at my school go to Mexico or Miami, but often times it is planned last minute. But because of my financial situation and paying for my break all on my own, I had to plan ahead of time. When the time came to decide what to do for 10 days in the middle of March, I was left on my own. Everyone else either had plans or were saving them for last minute and I just couldn't do that. So I called up my Zayde (grandpa in Yiddish) and asked if I could crash at his place in Boca for a week. He hesitantly obliged (the last time I went was in 7th grade and I was what you would call a "bratty child" at that point) but he still let me stay. He would be home but was busy with his own life so it would basically be me and the dog. 

When I arrived in Florida, ready for a week of sunbathing and sunshine, I was excited. I needed some light in my life, literally, and I was hoping I would find that. What I didn't expect was how lonely I would feel. I am the kind of girl who loves, and I mean loves, to be alone. Whether it is dinner or a movie, I like to think that I am extremely independent and only depend on myself for my happiness. But seeing everyone else I knew enjoying their spring breaks with other people, well, it made me have a pretty bad case of FOMO. 

It probably would have been better for me if I had turned my phone off and stayed away from social media for a week but I couldn't help but feel that everyone around me was having fun and I was left alone. It's one thing to choose to go on a solo vacation but it is another to kind of be forced to because everyone else was busy. Either way, it can be really hard seeing everyone else having a great time. Although I didn't necessarily leave spring break happier than when I left, I did learn a few important things: 

1. Sometimes you need to be alone to see the real issues 

If I had had a spring break like everyone else, I would not have realized how bad my insecurity is of being left out. You are not always going to be invited to things. You are not always going to be happy when you are away from school. And you are most certainly not always going to have the spring break of your dreams. And you know what? All of that is okay. It is okay to be upset and cry when you see Snapchats of people having more fun than you. You know why it's okay? Because it hurts. But at the end of the day, all that matters is if you are aware of why you are upset so that you can understand yourself better. 

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2. Everything looks better on social media 

One of the best things that my mother has taught me (besides wearing sunscreen) is that it may look like someone is having a better time than you are, but it's all smoke and mirrors. We are all guilty of making something look cooler or better than it is just for the sake of showing other people. That being said, don't judge a book by its cover. Those people may look like they are having the BEST time of their lives, but I am sure that somewhere within that crazy 3 a.m. Snapchat is a hangover that no one ever want's to talk about again. 

3. For some people, college may not be like it is in the movies 

And by some people, I mean most people. What I mean by this is in the movies you always see people making the best friends of their lives, going on amazing spring breaks and making memories that last a lifetime. But the thing is, it's okay if that's not how your experience is. Not everyone has their "prime" in college and that only means that there are some really amazing things to come. 

And #4... always wear sunscreen, kids


Ok so this isn't really one of the things I was planning on talking about but I mean, come on. It really is hard to remember your sunscreen when there is no one to remind you! Sorry, mom! Anyways...

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All of these things that I learned are things that I had to tell myself every single day while I was on vacation and things I am still telling myself. And you know what, it's okay to need a little reminder every now and then that thing's are gonna be okay and that it is okay to be alone. We could all use a little bit of self-living every now and then.