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Mental Health

Introversion and the Art of Finding Alone Time

College is all about adjustments. Whether it’s adapting to heavy course loads, being away from family or overcoming anxiety, every first-year experiences the emotional toll. For me, the foremost struggle is a lack of solitude. I’m not used to being surrounded by others at all hours. At any given moment, I’m at least indirectly communicating with my peers. Because I’m constantly interacting with someone, it has been difficult to turn off my social side and emotionally relax. I love my roommate and friends, but finding alone time to refresh and recharge has been a struggle.

At home, I had reliable coping mechanisms. When I felt especially cooped up, I wandered the aisles of Target and browsed through dozens of Goodwill racks. When I was sad and tearful, I cuddled up under my fuzzy blanket, grabbed my oldest stuffed animal and listened to One Direction songs on repeat. When I was angry or stressed out, I climbed into my Honda Civic and drove down the river road, accelerating too much and playing folk-punk music too loud. When I felt like I didn’t know who I was or who I was supposed to be, I re-read the same fantasy novel.

And when I just needed a break after a long day, I went to Taco Bell.

College has stolen parts of all of these routines from me. I am car-less, free-time-less, income-less. But mostly, I am without a space to be truly alone. Sure, most of the time I’m by myself when I study or settle down for bed, but there is no one place where aloneness is guaranteed. Even at the library, I am alone in a communal space. And in my room, I am alone with the expectation to not be for long.

In an effort to regain inner stability, I am learning to revel in communal aloneness. I am finding college equivalents for my old routines. I can’t drive to Goodwill, but I can tramper down to Billiken 2 Billiken. I can’t have a comfortable crying session in my shared bedroom, but I can talk to my roommate about it. I can’t blast music in my car, but I can blare it through my AirPods. I can’t read in my bed without distraction, but I can nestle into a hammock outside DuBourg.

And if I can’t get my sister to drive me to Taco Bell, I can always go to Qdoba.

Contributor for Her Campus at Saint Louis University
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