– The Beatles, ‘I’m Only Sleeping’
Friday night, 9:04 PM:
It is then that the cognitive dissonance sets in, filling my mind with conflicting thoughts and potential FOMO. My heart knows that I’m thoroughly craving curling up in my bed, smearing on an indulgent face mask, and reading a book or working on my writing. I want to listen to Bruce Springsteen and drink oolong tea.
I want to be alone.
But my head is screaming, “That’s not the college experience! You need to go out whenever you can and do everything! You’re only young once!”
I know I won’t be a twenty-something student forever… but I just want to decompress… but what if I miss a life-changing event… but spending time with myself will recharge my mental batteries…
A great deal of the time, I end up reluctantly rolling out of bed, smearing on makeup in lieu of a face mask, and traipsing down City Avenue to meet up with my friends. More often than not, I end up having a fantastic time, catching up with them and sharing laughs.
But, as someone who can be a bit of an introvert, my alone time is sacred. After a week of being in classes and on campus, surrounded by a seemingly endless sea of people, I am drained. Don’t get me wrong, I love being around people, whether they be friends or acquaintances or classmates or random humans in a coffee shop in the city. Every once in a while, though, I feel as if my energy is depleted; it’s almost as if I begin to lose touch with myself in the process of encountering everyone else.
There are a couple of things I have to remember in order to take care of myself, the first being that the concept of “the college experience” can be misleading and damaging. College life varies for everyone; there are no universal defining factors in what constitutes the ultimate experience. People sometimes assume, however, that college absolutely needs to consist of pulling off all-nighters and partying.
While some may adopt and enjoy this lifestyle in college, it surely isn’t for everyone. I have to keep in mind that it’s completely okay to live differently. I need to do what makes me happy, instead of going along with the group simply to quell the fear of missing out on something monumental. It’s my life, after all, and I should be allowed to dictate what I do with it and how I spend my spare time. If that means I want to go to sleep early on a Friday night or stay in on a Saturday, then so be it.
That’s not to say that I should never hang out with my friends; their companionship enriches my life in ways I can’t even adequately explain. But my friends understand that my heart and soul need some amount of solitude to thrive in a constantly crowded college environment. They never force me or badger me into doing anything I don’t feel comfortable with, and for that I really am grateful.
Rather, it is I who puts pressure on myself to uncomfortably push my limits and deprive myself of alone time in the pursuit of “normalcy,” which means I have to come to terms with the fact that this so-called “normalcy” doesn’t exist.
I guess the point I’m making here is that there is nothing wrong with desiring to being alone sometimes. It’s alright to decide to stay in even if it seems like everyone else is going somewhere. No, it does not mean you’re antisocial, even if your friends joke that you are – it just means you have to take a step back and sit down every once in a while, so you can run with the pack when need be.
And when you’re ready, you will run like the wind.