Martha Hrdy

Learn to be comfortable being alone

September 6, 2022

Making friends during your first year of college can sometimes feel as though you’re trying to latch on to anyone you can meet.

No one wants to be lonely, so when we find friends, we don’t want to do anything without them.

However, when starting college, it’s beneficial to try new experiences by yourself too.

Learning to be comfortable being alone is a crucial skill for college and for life.

First-years are notorious for traveling to the dining halls in packs.

Not wanting to appear lonely when sitting alone tends to be a common experience for first-years—they want to appear as though they have friends.

However, first-years will come to learn that eating alone is very common and nothing to be embarrassed about.

A study found that people often change their own actions to fit how they think others want them to act, even though others are rarely paying attention, according to a May 2 2015 Washington Post article.

When I started college, just the thought of eating alone in the dining hall was anxiety-inducing.

When I went to Central Dining alone for the first time, I was nervous about finding where everything was. The winding stations with all different options was a culture shock, having only experienced Northside Dining previously.

However, I soon got comfortable there, learning where my favorite foods were and how the flow of the dining hall lines worked. 

Exploring a new dining hall alone allowed me to expand where I was comfortable eating on campus, as well as expanding my food options. I also gained a sense of independence.

Esteemed psychotherapist Emily Roberts said actively choosing to spend time alone can have great mental health benefits. Roberts said being able to identify when we need solitude can help us handle negative emotions and experiences in an Oct. 28 2019 New York Times article.

In college, taking time for yourself to avoid burnout is very important, especially when you’re surrounded by people all day long.

Joining clubs alone can be a great way to get out of your comfort zone this semester.

I had been planning on joining the Cynic upon coming to UVM. However, at the start of my first semester, I didn’t find any friends that were as passionate about writing as me.

I went to the first general meeting and ended up joining the opinion section, where I was able to pursue my love for writing while also surrounding myself with great people who have the same interests as me.

If I had not gone to that meeting alone, I would not have found the group that has become a crucial part of my college experience.

Even if I had gone with a friend, I might’ve been tempted to stick by their side instead of branching out and meeting new people.

This can apply to any club or event. Going places alone can get you out of your comfort zone and allow you to meet people who have the same passions as you.

Having friends that are passionate about writing allows me to express my creative side with people who understand this outlet, allowing me to feel seen and validated in what I’m doing.

Doing things alone can broaden your experiences in college and get you out of your comfort zone, which is crucial for growing into the person you’re meant to be.


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