Want to know the key to true happiness? Learn how to be alone.
It might sound awful to some of us; loneliness is the opposite of happiness, right? Not always.
As a college student, you’re probably always on the go. Most of us carry heavy credit loads, and some go straight from class to work and then to the library for the rest of the night to cram for tomorrow’s exam.
The problem here is you never had a chance in your busy day to spend any quality time with the most influential person in your life – yourself. It is so important, especially as college students in the biggest transitional period of our lives, to be able to spend unstructured time alone each day.
For one, alone time gives the mind a chance to unwind and process the day’s events. If we’re on the run from the moment the alarm goes off until passing out in bed, the conscious mind never truly rests. If we allow ourselves even a half hour of idle time each day, our minds have a chance to revitalize and focus. It’s like letting out a big mental sigh before moving on with the day.
This doesn’t always have to be a scheduled period of silence, though. It’s easy enough to spend time “alone,” even in public. People get so worked up about not having anyone to go to the cafeteria with – I’ll admit it makes me uncomfortable, too – but I do try to force myself to eat alone from time to time. It gives me time to think, to process and to really get to know myself without the distraction of constant dialogue. If we allow our lives to be constantly in motion, we deny ourselves the heightened creativity and productivity offered by mental recharge.
This is important in relationships, too. While making a conscious effort to learn to love your time alone, you’re probably improving the quality of your relationships, as well. Taking the time to be introspective allows you to really figure out who you are and what you value in life. Once you sit down and figure out these priorities, you are ready to commit yourself to another person. It’s so easy to jump from one relationship to another without coming up for air, but without a little solitude to rest and reflect, what have you learned about the last relationship? What’s going to be different about the next?
Going along with this, what if the relationship you’re sure will last forever comes to an end for one reason or another? Even in the unlikely event that you marry your high school sweetheart ‘til death do you part, one of you will outlive the other. I find it comforting to know I can live alone now. If ever I am forced into the unfortunate situation of being parted from those I love, I will have enough to worry about without fearing I might not make it alone.
If this idea seems foreign, I challenge you to still give it a try. We’re all busy; that’s what anyone can expect in college, but there’s always time to be alone. Shut your dorm room door for a half hour. Walk to The Rock alone. Turn your phone on silent. If this is still impossible, block out a few hours in your schedule each week when you don’t allow yourself to make any plans. I promise, if you commit to getting to know the person behind the face you wear in public, inner peace and happiness will soon follow.