Being alone and being lonely are not the same thing

The first time you step foot onto your college campus is an interesting moment for a lot of students.

Lots of questions arise–what will life look like now that I am away from home? How am I supposed to make friends? What is my purpose here going to be at all?

The pressure found within the college atmosphere is unique in its nature and ultimately overwhelming.

This is fostered even further through difficult classes, new experiences, and the loss of a lot of precious moments left back home.

This whole process can be extremely draining, finding your footing in college will never quite look the same as somebody else’s.

With this in mind, students also must realize that being alone does not have to mean you are lonely.

If you don’t live under a rock, you’ve heard the term ‘FOMO’–the fear of missing out.

It’s so easy your freshman year to look at all the new people around you and question how they all made friends so fast or why it doesn’t bother them if they haven’t.

The reality about college and the culture that typically surrounds it is that there are plenty of people’s stories who don’t quite look like that.

Not everyone finds their person in college. Not everyone wants to go out every weekend. Not everyone can live on their own during these years.

During these years, being alone is actually one of the best things you can do for yourself.

When I began college, I didn’t even know what it felt like to enjoy my own company. The only person you will ever have, no matter what, is you, so get to know yourself.

There’s a whole new world available to you here. You will change more than you stay the same. This is all a part of coming to terms with the truest version of yourself.

So, if you’re sitting alone at the dining hall on a Friday night instead of finding the nearest party, don’t be discouraged.

These moments that you may spend alone can be some of the most fruitful times of your experience here because you spent them getting to know what it actually feels like being yourself. It’s okay to have different priorities than everyone else.

If you would like to truly understand that being by yourself doesn’t necessarily make you a lonely person, I want you to think on the following things.

First, what do you do in your free time that helps you build the life you want?

Second, does this aid you in understanding yourself more?

Third, is this who you want to be? If not, how can we grow more into the person we want to be rather than who we are told to be?

The more I am alone, the more I desire it. There is so much peace within finding beauty in the smaller moments of life that you wouldn’t get to notice otherwise.

Like taking the long way to class to look at the sky or fall colors on the trees, or discovering your new favorite music.

It could be hearing someone you love laugh so hard there are tears in their eyes, Listening to your mind in the silence when you have a chance to sit still, or even just drinking your favorite coffee and getting work done that you told yourself you would.

I am convinced this formula for mental health is the cure to social isolation and loneliness during your college years. Move your body. Feed your soul. Work your mind. And watch how your perspectives begin to change.

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