There are many aspects that have prepared me for college living. For instance, there is my high school counselor who taught my classmates and me the ins and outs of what to expect during our arrival to college, including the common emotions that students are bound to face. Happiness? Sure. Stress? Definitely. However, there is one sentiment in particular that has been prevalent, at least for me. This feeling is loneliness, especially when spending time alone with only my thoughts.
Perhaps there is nothing one can do to prepare for such a whirlwind of emotions — from being homesick, missing loved ones and pets to the lack of foundational relationships embedded into your life. However, spending time alone is an important task that we should all be cultivating. With that said, below is a list of ways that will finally allow you to spend time with your own company without feeling lonely.
Framing it differently
Reframing the way you think about spending time with yourself is the first order of action. Rather than spending time alone, you’re letting your mind rest. Even if you choose to remain productive, allowing yourself to be present in your own state of mind without the disruption of friends or classmates is effective. Effective for both your mental health and academic success. In addition, reconstructing the way you verbally and mentally think about the experience is just as important. For example, to say “spending time with myself” is less harmful than saying “I’m alone.” Spending time with only your own presence should be an enjoyable time. Perhaps it’s the ambivert in me, but once you enjoy your own company, the more you can enjoy the likes of others.
Begin a playlist
Listening to music or a podcast seems like a no-brainer when it comes to hanging out with only yourself. After all, a lot of us have the tendency to pull out our phones when times get uncomfortable. Whether it be an inspirational speaker or a tune that you can’t seem to get out of your head, listening to some form of entertainment can come in handy, especially if you’re new to the idea of spending time with yourself. Plugging in earphones is a wonderful way to block out any distractions, but it can also revitalize your dreaded experience into an enjoyable one. My friends at the Clog have created excellent playlists, like this K-pop road trip playlist or this summer love playlist, for you to browse through at your leisure.
Find a place
As we know, developing a routine can be tricky, especially when it’s different from what you’re used to. However, I have one piece of advice that will guide you in the right direction: find a spot. From cozy library corners to sitting beneath the autumn tree leaves, the places to choose from are endless, especially in a campus as vibrant as UC Berkeley. I myself tend to do my best thinking secluded from others. However, finding a spot on campus, or elsewhere, can provide a sense of motivation to bring yourself to spend time without the company of others. In the end, this will make the experience less lonely, but rather worthwhile.
You’re never truly alone
When just beginning the journey of spending time with yourself it can be easy to get wrapped up in the idea of being alone. However, slowing down is a fine way of setting things into perspective. When you just stop for a second and look around for a while, it’s funny to notice the things you haven’t before. Nature and all its grandeur is at your fingertips. If you just look around this is easy to see: the sound of birds chirping from above, ants and other insects at your feet, the brisk autumn breeze brushing your cheeks. How could we forget about UC Berkeley’s roaming tree squirrels? Through the art of being observant, we begin to see the beauty in what’s around us. Simultaneously, we then begin to feel less alone.
Whether you’re an ambivert like me who needs some alone time or simply wanting some peace and quiet, spending time by yourself can be immensely beneficial. Take this as an affirmation that you are not alone. Transforming being alone into something soothing is just the beginning to normalize such emotions. So, go on and spend some time alone. You’ll be happy that you did.