To Finding Joy in Solitude
By: Colleen Joyce
College is presented to be some of the most social times of an individual’s life- between meeting new people, joining clubs, going to parties, and networking, college students both interact and surround themselves with others for a large portion of their time at school. Social interaction is critical to the development and overall wellbeing of a person. Growth comes from meeting new people and sharing experiences. But what many students forget is this: spending time alone is critical to the college experience, too. We must ask ourselves: are we, as students, giving enough time to develop and enjoy ourselves on an individual basis? Finding joy in your solitude is one of the greatest life skills to obtain, particularly in a setting that is so heavily influenced by external interactions.
I’ve found that one of the best mechanisms for relaxation is being alone on occasion. Solitude is vastly underrated for a form of self-care. Sure, everyone can use a sheet mask every once in a while in the name of self-care, but it is sometimes necessary to look beyond the physical aspects and gain skills that promote being comfortable in one’s thoughts as a way to find peace. And while most love every second spent with others, there is something quite beautiful about being alone. When people are on their own, they are given the opportunity to find solace in themselves. Without distractions, we can truly free our minds and reflect on our feelings, actions, and general wellbeing. In busy times filled with schoolwork, extracurriculars, and social gatherings, finding minutes of solitude can provide an overwhelming sense of relaxation that may not be achieved through being surrounded by others.
Additionally, learning to be alone (without feeling lonely, of course) allows students to gain an additional level of independence when leaving the comfort of their homes for the very first time. Learning to be alone in a college setting can be wildly daunting- being by yourself in the dining hall or library, for example, is often nerve-wracking for college students of all years. But, I would argue that being alone in these settings allows us to become far more independent, beyond only flying from the nest for the first time. We learn to become reliant on ourselves and comfortable in partaking in normal, everyday activities on our own. By learning to appreciate eating or studying alone, students may become more confident in their individual abilities.
Considering the benefits and importance of solitude leads to the question of how one may give themselves these chances to engage in solitude. As previously mentioned, college is such an incredibly social place- so how can we take time to enjoy our own company? Some of my favorite ways to find joy in my solitude includes spending time alone at coffeeshops off-campus. There is something genuinely peaceful in sitting in a coffee shop for hours on end, sipping coffee and writing, for example. I have found that I am most comfortable in these sorts of settings and am concerned only with enjoying my own company. Additionally, taking a few minutes out of my day to sit in my dorm bed to simply think about the day has become another way in which I partake in my solitude.
Spending time with others is one of the moving parts of college. If there is a piece of advice that you take, though, I hope that it is this- taking time to yourself can and should also be a moving part in college. When we learn to enjoy our solitude, we improve our serenity and independence. We learn that we are a gift to ourselves and should partake in enjoying our very own company as we grow and experience life at college. I urge everyone to begin to find joy in their solitude.