WHAT WE NEED TO LEARN BEFORE STARTING UNIVERSITY
When getting ready to go away to university you are taught all about what to expect from your academic courses. You are told to get involved in activities. You are told all about the new experiences you are going to have. You are told that you are about to start the next big chapter of your life. You are told that you are going to have the time of your life.
You are not told about all the time you are going to spend alone.
If you are moving away from home for university, chances are you are going to spend more time alone than ever before. It does not matter that you are the most social person in the world, or if you are rooming with your best friend. It does not matter that you have a packed schedule and are working when you’re not in class. The thing is, you are still going to have more alone time than ever before and being alone can easily turn into loneliness for a first-time university student.
You see, we are rarely taught how to be alone. In fact, for most of your life till this point, you were probably pushed to be around other people.
As kids, our parents plan play dates and we are pushed to socialise and are told to go out to play with our neighbours. As we grow older, we join sports teams and clubs, and we are told we need to be as involved as we can so that it looks good on college applications. Do not get me wrong, all of this is so important.
We do not live in this world by ourselves and it is so necessary that we know how to communicate, create and sustain relationships with others. You know what else is important though? Learning how to be alone. Yet, there are so few of us who are comfortable doing that.
We seem to naturally associate being alone with a feeling of loneliness and that is why I think a lot of university students struggle with feeling lonely. Our first big mistake is associating being alone with loneliness. The second is, we do not know how to be alone.
Just as we learn how to socialise, we need to learn how to be alone, it is something that needs to be practised.
Teach yourself how to be alone. Know that you are not alone on this journey, as ironic as that is. Use this time to figure out who you are, what you want in life, what you can do. Make your alone time a choice. You do that by being intent full of how you spend it. Do not associate being alone with loneliness. They are different. You can be in a room full of people and feel lonely. You can also be completely alone and feel fulfilled. It is about your MINDSET.
5 THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU ARE ALONE
Something I want you to note is that a lot of these activities we connect with doing with other people. I want you to let go of that notion. It is great to do things with people, but it is just as important to know how to do them, and enjoying doing them, on your own.
Go to a gym, or a run, or take a yoga class. Try things and figure out what you enjoy. Endorphins trigger positive feelings. Feel those feelings, chase them.
2 JOURNAL / MEDITATE
Spend time with your thoughts and breath. This is such an important one. We are taught all about achieving goals, success, and moving forward. We are rarely given the chance to stay still or move slowly. This is your opportunity to do just that.
3 MOVIE NIGHT
This could be a night in or taking yourself out to the cinema. You have something you want to watch but none of your friends are interested in? Take yourself!
4 EAT A GOOD MEAL
This could mean listening to music, dancing in your kitchen while cooking for yourself. It could mean getting dressed up and taking yourself out to a new restaurant you have wanted to try. It could mean sitting on your floor eating a takeout straight from the containers. Food is so important. The act of eating is so simple but beautiful and nourishing. Eat with intention and presence.
5 READ A BOOK
A cup of tea or coffee and a good book is always a good night in my mind. Find what interests you. There is a whole world of literature waiting for you.
[The writer is a Muscat-based student, certified yoga instructor, empowerment coach and host of the podcast ‘LIVE INSPIRED’. email@example.com]