Alone time. It’s a strange concept where we, naturally social creatures, take time for ourselves. This isn’t constricted to just sitting in your room watching Netflix, it can be anything! Of course, fill it with Netflix binges if you want but some might fill it with running, others with a much needed nap. Personally, I have always struggled with this concept. I struggled to the point that when I was alone I would panic as if I were doing something wrong. As if there had to be something I needed to do or someone I needed to see. It took me till this semester to realize the true glory of alone time.
“Do you want to go with me?” you ask nervously. It could be anywhere: the Dining Hall (DH), the Prudential Center (The Pru), even the bathroom.
“No, it’s okay. Have fun though.”
This is the worst case scenario. Now you’re left to make a choice: stay home and leave those you invited wondering why you didn’t go either, or go alone.
I’ve been faced with this dilemma multiple times. Not only do I have social anxiety, but being at college was the first time I’ve ever lived alone, so it’s often hard to get the courage to go places by myself. I’ve frequently asked friends if they want to accompany me just about anywhere just so I don’t have to face it alone. I’ve opted for Cup of Noodles as an alternative for facing DH dinner time by myself and I’ve cancelled plans entirely because everyone bailed.
This year I decided that had to change. I’m nineteen-years-old and I’m not always going to have friends and family to hold my hand. I’m going to have to go to interviews by myself, grocery shop, and (gasp) even make my own doctors’ appointments.
The DH was my first step. If you can brave the DH alone you can brave just about anywhere. I started out slow. I now make pretty frequent trips there for lunch, mainly because I live in Paramount. I find I waste too much time walking back and forth between classes to the icy wasteland that is the fourth residence hall. I started out sitting in the small hidden booths in the corner of the DH, my head buried in a book to mask my shame. But then I realized there wasn’t anything to be ashamed of and decided it was okay to sit where I wanted. After all, at breakfast and lunch time most people are there alone with their headphones in anyways, and at dinner everyone is too wrapped up in their own worlds to even care that you’re spending a meal by yourself.
Being alone in my campus bubble was one thing, but a new crisis arose when I had to venture to the Pru by myself and no one was around to go with me. I almost considered not going at all, but the quest for a new planner was too important to put off because of my impending fear of running errands alone.
As always, it’s never as bad as you build it up to be in your head. No one laughed at me for being alone, nothing awful happened and I got to Barnes and Noble and back with the prophesied planner in tow.
The most notable, perhaps, was when I had to get a drug test for my new job. I had only been on campus for a day after move-in and I was already forced to venture off campus over by Northeastern so I could get this done. There was no way out of this one, so thus began my adventure of taking the horrid green line all the way to the land of actual colleges who offer science majors and math courses. Going anywhere unfamiliar is nerve-wracking but going alone is probably twice as bad. It’s situations like these that boost my confidence. If answering the phone without panicking makes me feel like an adult, then going on an excursion outside of the Emerson bubble with no one to accompany me is my form of leveling up in the adult world.
I, of course, make light of this subject because it’s my own experience, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who have had similar experiences. It’s the reason why my friends have a group chat almost solely for the purpose of figuring out who’s eating meals when and why girls tend to go to bathrooms in packs. We feel safer in numbers and there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with going places alone. In fact, I’d actually recommend trying it sometime. There’s something peaceful and empowering about not having to wait for friends to get things done, and sometimes it’s nice to have a day to clear your head and do what you want to do.
Everyone is a rebel in their own way. Some people buy mustard yellow scarves, others don’t wear bras, and some go places alone. I’ve never really considered myself a rebel, at least not in the media’s tattooed, leather-jacket clad sense, however, this is my way to rebel and for me I consider it a pretty successful rebellion indeed.