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I am a strong believer in the fact that you can be alone, but not lonely. Since coming to college I have learned that alone time is more important to me than I had ever imagined, and I honestly feel like I need it to function every day. I think it is because in comparison to high school, college allows you so much free time but so little alone time. Classes take up much less of your time, but you are constantly surrounded by people- whether that be in the dining hall, your dorm or the library. Although I would consider myself an introvert, I wholeheartedly believe that everyone, including extroverts, need to spend at least a little time alone every day. 

I enjoy alone time so much; I could go a whole week without talking to anyone and be totally okay with it. I know what you are thinking- that’s a little concerning and impractical, this is true. Realistically there’s no way I cannot see anyone for a whole week while being a college student (I have classes, two jobs, etc.), on top of the fact that seeing people is good for your wellbeing. I think my need to be alone frequently may stem from the fact that I am an only child, that I was so used to having alone time growing up that I am carrying this habit into adulthood. 

What I am stressing is some amount of alone time, no matter how little, where you can allow yourself to self-reflect, destress, or do something you really enjoy. Self-reflection is so important to your mental health, whether this is meditation, journaling (My personal favorite), or even just lying down and staring at the ceiling. Anything that allows you to process and think of the day you have had. Personally, I try to dedicate some time every night before bed, turning my phone off, and just writing whatever I experienced or felt throughout that day. It serves as a release for any negative emotions or feelings I had. 

During quarantine in the spring of 2020, I genuinely think I lost all socialization skills. Both of my parents were still working out of the house for the entirety of quarantine and being by myself so much for that period of time made me so dependent on alone time. The downside of this was that when things started opening again, I was extremely anxious anytime I had to leave the house. I struggled for so long to get used to being around people again and finding a balance between the amount of time I spent alone, and the amount of time I was out being social. 

This is something I am still working on, because there is a fine line between being alone the perfect amount versus too much or too little. Some days (like most recently) I have absolutely no desire to speak to anyone, I just want to sit alone in my room and read a book or watch Netflix- and that is okay. It is so important to listen to yourself and what you need. If you only have the energy to sit in bed for a whole day because you mentally need a break, then you should do that. I have been adapting this into my life recently, listening to my body and mind and really respecting what I need in certain moments. 

But being alone is not all sunshine and rainbows. Truthfully, it is uncomfortable and takes a lot of time to get used to. When you are forced to sit alone with just your thoughts, it is challenging to get yourself to focus and sometimes you must reflect on emotions or feelings that make you feel uneasy. It is important to persist through these demanding sentiments, to make progress towards your own mental health and self-reflection. 

I have learned from self-reflection that by making sure you are most comfortable with yourself when you are alone, can be so influential to the other aspects of one’s life. By learning to be alone when I need it and allowing time to reflect on events in my life, I have been able to work on increasing my confidence in my life. Making sure that I am most comfortable with myself, this has really helped me feel more confident when I am with others. By reflecting and learning from everyday experiences when I have alone time, I feel more productive and motivated to better myself. Self-reflection overall has made me a happier person, and this is all because I allow myself to have alone time. I cannot stress this enough, but just because you allow yourself to be alone does not necessarily mean you are lonely.

UNH 2024 Lover of crewnecks, bagels and rom-coms.
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