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Balancing Academic and Social Lives with “Alone Time”

A mentor once told me that I should not prioritize alone time. “Alone time,” he said, “implies that you are alone.”

Rather, he told me I should think of it as time for personal growth and development. That truly changed my perspective.

While there are times when I like to light my favorite rose-scented candle and binge Netflix by myself in my room, the “alone” time I was talking about can be referred to as “personal growth and development,” or even much more simply put, self-care. It truly depends on what you intend to do with the time to yourself.

Maintaining academics is already difficult enough. You spend your time in between classes at the library, or maybe at the nearest cafe, sipping your latte and completing your assignments. And, like most college students, you likely are balancing a social life as well (and maybe even a romantic relationship!) 

I have struggled with FOMO without even realizing it for so long. Living in a duplex house with my male friends a floor beneath me, I almost always stop in to say hello and see how they are doing on my way home from class, despite how exhausted I might be. After all, that is what a good friend would do, right?

But one day, I thought to myself, “what if I just didn’t stop by?” And so, I kept walking up the stairs to my apartment. And I realized, the world will not end if I do not know what is going on downstairs with my homies. In fact, I realized that part of being a good friend is ensuring I am well-rested and at my best, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. If I’m not, how can I be there for my friends when they need it? How can I encourage them to take care of themselves if I’m not doing the same for myself?

Another realization: putting yourself first and taking care of yourself does not mean that others are not important to you. It is important to remember that friendship is a two-way street (something I often forget and need to remind myself!) Friends should check up on you too. And if they don’t, then maybe you should reconsider how much time and energy you put into a relationship and whether that is being reciprocated back to you.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions (shout-out to my last article on how to stick to your resolutions!) is to put myself first and make time for myself. Whether you call it alone time, or self-care, or time for personal growth and development, and regardless of what this time for yourself includes, prioritize it. You are in charge of yourself, your well-being, safety, and growth. Give yourself a rest when your body is asking for it, listen to music and dance in your room when you have the urge, spend the evening writing poems. Remember that your relationship with yourself comes before your relationship with anyone else, and there will always be time for friends when you are feeling your best!

Lover of pumpkin pie and curiosity. IUP Nursing 2024
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