Today I had the opportunity to sit alone at lunch. As weird as that sounds, I actually really enjoyed it. Usually, lunch is considered social hour; a break from the annoying babbling of your professors; a chance to get out all the gossip from the night before. But today, I got some time to actually think to myself. While I was sitting outside on this beautiful Wednesday by the little Zeus’s to-go on UL campus, I looked up from my gyro sandwich and looked around. And I mean really looked around. As many times as I’ve walked this tiny campus this year, I noticed that there are buildings that I had never even seen before. I finally found the parking lot for commuting students… The table I sat at, I didn’t even know was there until I was actually trying to find somewhere to sit alone. I also noticed that the squirrels at UL are abnormally fat… Basically what I’m trying to get at is this: Do you ever actually look around? Sure, there are pretty days and you notice the colors in the sky, but do you every look closer? There’s beauty in nature or in the tiny details of a building’s structure. There’s beauty in being alone. When you’re with your friends, you’re only focused on the subject at hand. All that matters is how much you’re dreading your next class or how embarrassing it was when you tripped a few feet back. Try doing some things alone that you normally wouldn’t this week; you’ll be amazed at what you might see or think of.
As I was sitting alone today, I literally thought about being alone. According to Dictionary.com, “alone” is defined as “separate, apart, or isolated from others; to the exclusion of all others or all else; unique; unequaled; unexcelled”. But I like to think of it a little differently: being alone is to be connected to yourself. Who’s to say that you’re isolating yourself from others? Maybe you just don’t want to isolate you from yourself anymore. Today I thought about things that I hadn’t thought about for a while. Though I don’t know why they were brought up in my mind, they were all things that I needed to address on my own, big things and small. Being outside by yourself without interruption or distraction is almost like a healing process for your mind in the midst of a busy day.
The same goes for dance (totally unrelated). I had my second dance class of the semester today and I get giddy every time I think about it. For one thing, it’s incredible to be back in a studio and realize that I still got it (I really need emojis on this thing to show my sarcasm). Secondly, has anyone ever wondered why dance studios have huge mirrors? It’s so you can focus on yourself rather than watch the people around you. This might sound vain, but I know I’m not the only one who stops and stares for a second when I see myself in a reflection… The best thing about mirrors is that it’s the only time you ever see yourself. You have no idea what you look like while dancing at a party (ask my friends, I look ridiculous…) and you don’t know what everyone else sees when you pass them. Mirrors provide you with the information that someone else might get from a glance at you. And in a dance studio, that’s all you need to improve. Visuals of yourself. And a good instructor, of course. But my point is, being in a dance studio–no matter how filled it is with aspiring Broadway stars– is like being one with yourself. And that’s one of the main reasons why I love it so much… it’s some of the only time I actually get to myself.
Last February, I went to New York during Mardi Gras for a job shadowing at Nicole Miller’s showroom. After nailing it (allow me to toot my own horn for a second), I walked out of the building and down the streets of Manhattan by myself to meet up with my family at H&M. The sudden confidence I gained from being told from Nicole Miller’s employees that I had the potential to work for them in the future shot through me like a bullet. I was literally strutting around the city. I had no idea where I was going, but I didn’t care. I had so much adrenaline that I hardly noticed when my black felt hat flew off… but I felt untouchable. I know this compliment was pretty minuscule, but working for a big designer is something I’ve always wanted to do! So to touch on the topic, walking alone down the streets of New York was empowering. New York can be scary, especially if tackling it alone, but I’ve never felt more secure and motivated than I did in that moment. The one-on-one time I had with bustling city was the first time I truly felt like an adult. I was in tune with myself and with the world. While typing that story, I realized this: there are times when you might be by yourself, but you’re never alone. There’s also a major difference in being alone and being lonely.
Most people HATE being alone. I, for one, have grown to love it. Between bad break ups and floozy friends, I can’t help but notice that I’m glad I’m not committed right now. College is a time to make new friends and ditch the old ones. I love my friends from high school and I fully intend on keeping them, but we all have a few people we wouldn’t mind detaching from. I also don’t regret any of my past relationships and I truly believe they shaped me into who I am today, so thanks, boys. On the subject of being single: I learned a lot from being so for the past few years. Finally releasing yourself mentally from an ex boyfriend is so liberating. It’s like you’re trapped inside your own head for the entire grieving process. I’ve had an on-and-off relationships for a while, but not having to be devoted to a certain person has made me really get to know myself and figure out exactly what I want. But being able to stay close to this person is also beneficial because I know I have a close guy friend who I can count on, no matter if we’re “together” or not. Now don’t get me wrong, I want a boyfriend as much as the next girl, but I’m more than happy to be spending this Valentine’s Day with my one true love: New York City. My romantic date will consist of my mom and sisters and I trying to make the locals believe we have manners over tea at the Plaza.
Coming from an all girl’s high school, I’ve learned a ton about how girls work vs. how boys work. Here’s my first complaint: WHY on earth do girls feel the need to go to the bathroom together?! That drives me nuts… you do not need your friend to help you pee!! Excuse my French but really girls, just go. I understand if you’re sick and you need someone to hold your hair back or if you need someone to help zip and unzip your dress, but there is absolutely no reason to pull me out of a good conversation just so you don’t have to walk 15 feet by yourself. Why is it that girls don’t ever want to be alone, though? Is it the constant need for reasurement that your makeup looks okay? You have a secret to tell them? Honestly, I can’t figure it out… so if anyone knows, feel free to fill me in. Guys put on such a good front of being independent, that’s part of the reason why they think we need to rely on them so much. ***Always use the buddy system when in a strange place or feel uncomfortable*** Girls have always been weird about being alone with a group of guys. I kind of love being alone with my guy friends… they’re so easy going. No drama, no cattiness, no worries. Being included in guys’ night is like being initiated into a secret club. Except when they don’t let you play beer pong… then it’s just sexist (just kidding). Being alone with the guys, I’ve realized that there’s no reason to try to impress them. They’re all just as lame when with their group as you are with your’s! Being alone with a group of rowdy guys does make you feel alone in the sense of being outnumbered, but it also makes you feel pretty bad ass for being accepted into their crew. You’re basically one of them. Sometimes I think I am more of a guys’ girl than a girls’ girl, but then I remember that I like shopping too much.
Last semester during finals week, I was sitting in a hidden corner of the library studying for my dreaded ECON final. I was freaking out; my professor was completely illiterate and impossible to understand, I still was unsure of some information after days of studying my little heart out, and I was scared. I needed to pass this class for my major (currently Management). I was perfectly content in my cram session behind the pole of the coffee shop on floor one when this kid I had never met came up and said to me, “This is the only spot left in the library. Mind if I sit?” Considering the library was completely packed, I believed him and let him sit (not that I would have said no). To my luck, this had to have been the chattiest stranger I have ever met. He went on and on about how he liked to draw guns and how he was a loner in high school and blah blah blah.. he proceeded to make me feel even more awkward by asking me if I was one of the popular girls in high school. Now how does one answer that question without sounding incredibly conceited?! I’m not saying I was one of the popular girls, but I would say I had a big group of girls to call my friends… St. Joseph’s provided me with a very close group of 5 girls who I consider my best friends, and a huge variety of girls who I call my sisters (along with my fellow Kappa Deltas). Coming from an all girls’ school, I learned a lot about the difference in genders. *See above* Back to my rant on my new friend. After a while, this guy asked me I was annoying him. Politely as possible, I told him, “You aren’t annoying me, but I really have to focus on my exam so I kind of need some quiet time.” He stopped talking. For about 6 minutes. I actually got up and walked away after he called my beloved sorority a “pay-for-friends-program”. Not okay, buddy. But what I realized from this guy asking me so many questions about my friends and my social life is that all he’s been alone for a while, and sometimes that isn’t healthy. But in a way I was jealous of him. He was never involved in the drama, never one to get in trouble for underaged drinking at a party, never one to forget to stop and smell the roses. I love my friends and family more than anything, but there needs to be a balance. Personal time is just as important as social time and I believe everyone should find the line of where each should stop and start.
There are few times when we are actually ever alone in college… between your roommate (though I have my own room in the dorm and my roomie is like a sister to me), the group of cackling girls in the “no-noise” level of the library, or even in the bathroom… none of those places give you the proper time or place to really think. Exercising, meditating, or eating lunch by yourself are all the best opportunities to really get to know yourself and your surroundings. Try it. You might like it.