How to thrive in your own company
Despite the marketing material presenting the student lifestyle as happy, multi-cultural friendships groups laughing on the campus lawn, university actually is an independent and sometimes isolating environment.
Maybe you haven’t made as many friends as you envisaged or maybe you all just have totally different schedules. Both is totally OK! It’s easy to feel lonely as you wander through crowded city streets or campus hallways, but alone time doesn’t have to be a negative. While we often end up resorting to playing old food-themed puzzle games on our phones or rifling through social media for a new meme to tag friends in, embracing alone time can be highly beneficial.
Treat yo self (and nobody else)
We constantly feel the pressure to put our desires second, especially in group situations. Nobody wants to be the “bossy” friend who always decides what to eat, so you go around in circles trying not to admit that you really feel like sushi when you know somebody else in the group hates fish.
Instead, go out on your own for that food you’re always craving and enjoy it guilt-free. You can get exactly what you want, when you want, with nobody elses’ preferences to restrict. Embrace that messy burger, chow down on strange seafood and eat that big piece of cake without judgment. Be selfish! You never have to apologise and you’re never pressured into doing something you don’t want to do.
Take baby steps
Independence doesn’t come overnight, so don’t plan a solo trip before you feel comfortable going to go to the grocery store by yourself. Consider what makes you a little nervous to do alone and pull it apart, taking it a step at a time. Going to a film you’ve been desperate to see but nobody else cares about is a safe starting point; it’ll allow you to do something you enjoy without being restricted by what others want to do.
Once you feel a little more confident, food is the next step forward. We’ve been repeatedly told that being alone in a restaurant is embarrassing or gives the impression you’ve been stood up. Start by getting some takeaway and eating it in a scenic location and slowly build up your tolerance to being alone by finding restaurants that have a couple single person tables, so you’re not alone in your solitude.
Or jump into the deep end
Sometimes the biggest changes can be for the best. Tired of your crazy share house but cant find a good roommate to move out with? Consider a studio apartment. You can exclusively have your friends over whenever you want, have a night in without disruption and never have groceries mysteriously go missing.
On a Contiki trip and nobody else wants to go to that obscure museum? Get a taste of travelling solo without the scary cons and take the day for yourself, doing exactly what you want to do.
Sharing is caring
Most people love sharing experiences, so doing activities alone can be off-putting. Rather than only using Instagram whenever you’re with friends, take advantage of the shareability of social media and show the world what you’re up to.
Taking a photo of a pretty brunch or an aesthetic alley may feel a little cringe, but it allows you to have that approval from your friends, without them being in front of you. There’s a reason we watch strangers on the internet telling us what is in their bag, we love being nosy and people can be just as nosy about your life (if you want them to). Hell, you may even make a couple of bucks out of it.
Alone time isn’t just for introverts
Introverts for once have the advantage, being alone allows them to recharge and get ready for the next dreaded social interaction. However, extroverts thrive on socialisation, so being alone can seem like a challenge.
Extroverted people tend to be more outgoing and find it easy to get to know people. Take advantage of this social skill and go out and make more friends! Being alone doesn’t mean you can’t be around people. Developing new relationships in a variety of interest areas will allow you more opportunity for future socialisation.
If making new friends isn’t your priority, perhaps embrace your people-orientated personality and volunteer on your own or just people watch in a busy street and absorb the energy.
Jessamy is a QUT Bachelor of Journalism (advertising major) student. She is partial to cats, artsy-fartsy films, travelling, bubble baths, autobiographies and mulled wine.