Yeah. Me too.
I've been spending summers away from home for a long time (attend five or six week long ballet camps since age 15). The whole making-friends thing was always sort of hit or miss at these camps, because it was such a short time that you either found friends you didn't like (& tried to cling on to them so you weren't alone), or got lucky and found some people you loved.
The summer of 2015 I found some people I loved. They were my kind of people. We liked to spend our time in the same sort of ways, they were smart and thoughtful, and they made me laugh. But for some weird reason, I found myself getting really annoyed and irritable all the time. When we went out and did fun things (museums, movies, etc.) I always found myself wanting to be back in my room rather than enjoying my time with them. What the heck, right??
Well, here's what I've discovered:
I need alone time.
Flash forward a year, and I'm now at college! Once again, I have found people I really like! But also once again, I rarely have time alone. In college, you're constantly surrounded by other people. You sleep in the same room as someone, you usually eat your meals with friends, you are in classes with friends, you may even study with friends. And for me, I knew I was going to have to find ways to get some alone time in each day, or else I would go absolutely insane.
Anyways, sorry for the super-obnoxiously-long introduction. Here are my tips:
Wear headphonesWearing headphones is a great way to shut yourself off from the world for a little while. They create the feeling of being alone, even when you aren't. It's sort of a hard experience to put into words, but wearing headphones helps me feel sort of small, sort of inside-of-myself, and 100% occupied by my own mind. Wear them while you're walking around (if you're alone), studying, chilling in your dorm, etc. Listen to music or don't. Nobody will know.
Bonus: Headphones are sort of a universal signal for "don't talk to me" if you're in that sort of mood. Just don't wear them, like, when you're eating dinner with a bunch of your friends. That would be rude. ;)
Don't feel pressured to always walk with other peopleIt always sort of baffles me how some people can feel so uncomfortable being alone. At the beginning of college, it seemed like everybody was terrified of being alone. They'd set times to go to meals together, set times to walk to class together (even though it's literally three minutes from the dorm), and even meet up to do laundry. I totally understand (and agree with) wanting someone to walk with if it's dark or you feel unsafe. But otherwise, I've found that the three-or-so minute walk from the dorm to class is kind of enjoyable. Also, I really like putting headphones in and playing music as I walk. It makes me feel like I have a soundtrack to my life.
Study by yourselfYou've probably heard this before, but finding a special spot to study (away from people, away from distractions, somewhere air-conditioned) is not only effective, but also pretty enjoyable if you find yourself needing time alone. In a weird way, I kind of like studying in the library by myself. Not the studying part, I mean. Although my classes have been more fun than expected.
Don't feel obligated to talk to your roommate all the timeForgive me if this tip sounds too anti-social. Sometimes I can't tell. But also hear me out.
Of course you should spend time with your roommate, get to know them, and encourage the possibility of a friendship. This all starts from talking. But adversely, if I'm living with someone all the time, I would not be able to survive with the obligation to make small talk with them constantly. If you're an introvert, don't feel obligated to talk to your roommate all the time. But remember to smile and say "hi" when you enter the room and generally be a pleasant human being. If you're living with an introvert roommate, don't be offended if they don't talk sometimes. It probably doesn't mean they hate you. They're probably just occupied with their own little world.
Know your roommate's scheduleIf you ever want some time alone without, like, random library-dwellers nearby (aka, time alone in your room), it may be helpful to get an idea for your roommate's schedule. What times does she have classes? When does she often go to the library, etc? When does she have club or sports meetings? That way, you'll know your window for if you ever want to, like, meditate on your bed with zero chance of distraction. For me, I use this time to take over our floor in front of the window, and take blog photos. (The blogging-in-college struggle is real.)
Make a "bubble" spaceWhen I talk about wanting "alone time" that doesn't mean I hate other humans and don't want them around. Other humans are great. The way I think of it, alone time is necessarily not just because of the lack of people, but because it allows me to spend time in "my own world." And that's hard to do when you feel like you're in the middle of everyone and everything. But even if you aren't completely 100% alone, there are still ways to cozy up in your own world. For me, my bed is my bubble. I'm on the top bunk, so it's kind of like a whole separate room up there (a room with a big crack that your phone can fall through and land on your roommate while sleeping. It has happened). I have a little bulletin board with decorations, a hanging bag that holds my headphones, journal, glasses, gum, general goodies, etc. I even have a little fan taped to the bed frame. It's so great. It's like the tree house I've always wanted, but considerably smaller. I highly suggest finding a bubble/ tree house space for yourself. Whether it's your desk, or your bed, or a secret study spot in the library. Find a little space that feels cozy, quiet, and yours. Find a place where you can be completely at ease
Work out aloneAs much as I love the many free workout classes available in college, there are few things as therapeutic as working out alone. With headphones in, probably. Doing repetitive tasks (such as, like, running) are great ways to clear your head & calm yourself, and exercising itself is also really great for overall health and productivity (it's hard to do homework when you're antsy).
And now a word on enjoying alone time:So yeah, it's college, and there's this pressure to constantly be doing something super-duper fun. Something instagram-worthy. Something really, really cool.
But there is coolness in being a homebody, too. Seriously. A different kind of coolness, and sometimes a kind that attracts different kinds of people, but it is there nonetheless. (I wrote a blog about this a while back.)
If you ever feel weird, or lame, or embarrassed about spending time alone, remember this:
Making time for yourself isn't just a personal preference, it's also part of your mental health. And everybody does it in different ways; some alone, some by ranting to friends, some by reading a book, some by walking across campus with headphones in. Any and every choice is a perfectly valid one. Which choice you make doesn't actually matter. What matters is if you take the time to care for yourself and actually do it. :)
How do you make time for yourself? Does it involve alone time? Let me know!
Follow me on Pinterest, Bloglovin, or Instagram! If you're a friend or fellow blogger I'd love to follow you back!