The first thing my mother told me when I left for university was to put myself out there. She told me to move out of my comfort zone, step up and introduce myself to other people. So, when I arrived at university, I accepted every chance to be social. Going out for every meal, attending tailgating parties and walking around every corner of campus until I'd worked off everything I'd eaten since I was three was all I did. I made my mother proud. I was being social.
But there were times when, even though parties and other social events were on every corner of campus, I found myself alone. Sitting in my dorm room, eating Chips Ahoy and peanut butter and checking out the best prices for a cute USB drive, I was content. When surrounded by people, the need to be interesting and vocal was a must. Relaxing on my bed was the perfect way to be myself, no pressure added.
We grow up being told to go out of our way to make friends so we can feel good about our lives. But what is wrong with being on your own? I appreciate human company as much as the next person, but who ever said it was "weird" to enjoy the moments alone? There is nothing wrong with taking the time to recuperate from having to impress a handful of new people a day. Actually, I highly recommend it so that you can stay sane!
I moved a lot as a child, over a handful of times, and I remember each day at a new school distinctly. Lunch tray in hand, a sea of tables filled with unfamiliar faces and that sinking feeling of having to introduce myself. I'd catch the eye of the kind stranger who had decided to release me from my hell. Lunch would then proceed to be a thirty minute torture session of answering basic questions that made me sweat as I tried to please and not offend the girls surrounding me. By the time ended I was so frazzled that attending class seemed like a vacation.
Returning home from trying to impress my new peers, I found the best part of the day the time where I could shut myself in my bedroom with a snack and a good book and reflect on myself. I wasn't being antisocial or avoiding anything. I simply wanted to have some time to myself and to reassure myself that I was fine. I wanted to calm myself after the stress of making new friends. I wasn't being a weirdo who spent all her time holed up in her room -- I was taking care of my mental health.
Most kids who walk by my dorm room tonight might think that I am avoiding social contact and most likely won't poke their heads in and say hello. What they won't realize is that I would love it if they would say hi. I don't want to join them on their way to a party where I am bombarded by a million college students dancing to incredibly loud music, but social interaction is always appreciated!
If I were to sum this entire article up in one sentence, it would have to be: It is alright to take time to be by yourself. Ignore the pressure to constantly be surrounded by people and straining your energy impressing them. Turn down that invitation to dinner or don't attend every single board game night. Sit at your desk and write. Put on some music and take a nap.
Be on your own. I promise you won't end up like Fantine in "Les Mis."