Fighting the Inner Battle: Social vs. Solitude

I hate my dorm room. It is a small, concrete shoebox in a crappy old building that chronically smells weird. My sole window faces taller buildings, less than thirty feet away, thus blocking any beams of sunlight from entering my room. It is practically a cave, big enough only for me. As a result, I try to stay out of my room as much as possible.

Then comes the issue of what I do to avoid my room. I do homework, eat, and even schedule more meetings and activities just to stay out of this glorified concrete cell. As a result, I have more stress and anxiety about my daily schedule and interactions with others because most of the time I am overbooking myself, not getting enough sleep, and overanalyzing my social encounters.

So this presents two dilemmas and I am forced to choose between the lesser of two situations that both make me unhappy. All semester I have been torn about which one I should choose more to make things easier and make my life more positive. Looking back, I realize I have been choosing so far to spend far more of my time with others. And while it has taken a toll on my sleep, stress levels, and sometimes social anxiety, I still think it was the better choice. This prevented me from brooding in my dark jail cell alone every night and encouraged me to foster new relationships since nearly all of my closest friends have been abroad this semester.

However, my decision still had its downfalls. I would still occasionally have panic attacks, seized by the terror that I wasn’t doing enough, that I wasn’t doing things well enough, and I wasn’t true to the relationships I had created and could keep up with others. It would be short phases of debilitating fear that I would amount to nothing, to both myself and others.

I think had I done things differently, I would’ve learned balance. Reflecting on this entire semester, where I have learned to make new friends and follow a more independent schedule, I realize that while it is good I am working on my own time throughout the day and keeping busy with my own individual tasks, I need to learn that I can relax alone too. It’s not always bad to be alone, I just have to find the right environment for me to effectively best calm down and take time for myself.

My takeaway from this is all is that both social time with others and solitary reflection are integral components of self-care and finding positivity. However, these have to be done in moderation and in settings that you are most content. It is good to leave your comfort zone sometimes, but never to the extent that it is more harm than help to yourself. From this, you can help yourself on both spectrums of being happy in social settings as well as tranquility when you are alone. Take time for others, take for yourself, and find the right balance where you feel most at peace.