In a society where being alone is viewed as a sign of loneliness, it is tough for young adults as being by oneself becomes a main part of social life.
Socializing in college exists in a limbo stage of being too busy to make friends, but also having copious amounts of free time. From going to the dining hall for meals, to exploring the town, being by oneself can feel awkward and isolating.
Being by oneself is completely OK and necessary for one’s mental health. With a generation where most, if not all, have some form of anxiety, finding solace in the fact that you are not alone could help. So, here are some tips I have gained over the years of surviving as a socializing young adult.
- No one is judging anyone who is alone
It is common to feel as if everyone around is judging you for being by yourself, for your clothes, or for your actions. There are two things that helped me: one, no one is a mind reader, and two, I will probably never see this person again.
2. Headphones are your best friend
While eating or waiting in a line, put a good album on or watch a video on YouTube. Journaling or reading, in particular, helped me. Find a quiet activity that you like to do.
3. Take a moment when anxiety hits hard
Some things are not in your control and that’s OK. If struck with severe anxiety in public, finding a quiet and private space and taking a moment to just breathe may help. If there is a particular technique that helps you during an attack, like a playlist or breathing exercises? Then use that. It is OK to rush back to your room after it is over. We are humans not machines and remember, anxiety is a wave. If it goes up, it will come back down.
4. Fear of Microaggressions/Racism/Sexism/Homophobia/Transphobia
As a woman of color, I can relate to constantly being on guard and feeling apprehensive around strangers. It is a legitimate fear and not everyone can afford to give people the benefit of the doubt. Try to hang out in spaces like the library or student lounges, if possible, and always carry some sort of item for protection. Hopefully, one day there won’t be a need to be scared anymore.
5. Your mind is a safe space
One great thing about being alone is that you do not need to put on another persona. It took a huge burden off my shoulders when I realized that I can do whatever I want.
Being by yourself, especially in college , sucks. But it will get better. Everyone around, yes even the ones with large friend groups, are more or less on the same page. You are not truly alone. The tips I shared here may not be helpful to everyone as each individual’s experience differs. Yet, I hope that it does encourage a conversation about this particular aspect of college life.