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Friday, March 1, 2024

How to make the best of your alone time

Having ample time to yourself is a great opportunity to broaden your horizons

By JENA TUFAIL — jjtufail@ucdavis.edu

 

Remember high school? For most, this was a time where it was easy to find a niche, to make friends and develop bonds with those in the same grade as you. We all had the same set schedules and often had free time at the end of the school day. 

However, the transition to college can be difficult. Everyone has different schedules, usually no one you know is in your classes and you have to make time for work and extracurriculars. For most undergrads, school is a place to focus on your goals, but it can be lonely and hard to enjoy if you don’t have many friends to provide a support system. 

However, being alone is not always a negative thing. If I’m honest, I struggled to make friends my first year at UC Davis. Not only was I commuting to campus, but between class, homework, internships and sleep, I had forgotten how to socialize.

For many, the pandemic has had lasting effects on us mentally and socially. However, spending time on your own can sometimes be beneficial. 

Instead of focusing on others and fostering new friendships outside of your responsibilities, you can use that time to figure out exactly who you are, what you are passionate about and what you are excited to do with your future. Getting involved in on-campus activities or working directly with professors to broaden your skills and knowledge are great opportunities, even though they are not inherently “social” or focus on meeting new friends. 

Although it is always fun to partake in activities with friends, spending time alone can sometimes be freeing. When in groups, it can be hard to be just “you.” When alone, you can take part in activities and pick up new hobbies you like. This can be a great time to find something separate from your schoolwork and responsibilities that you can enjoy, which can help you manage your stress and allow you time for self reflection.

If you’re still worried about not having a friend group in college, just know that you’re not alone. College is completely different from high school, and it can be difficult for everyone to adjust. Letting friendships come naturally is sometimes the best way to meet new people, and that can take time. Not worrying about how long a friendship might last could even lead to some of your closest relationships in college. 

Always remember: quality over quantity. It is so easy to still feel alone in a group full of people. Finding one or two friends that you can have meaningful and genuine bonds with is more fulfilling than having many shallow relationships.

Don’t feel like you ever need to force yourself to make friends or to fit in with others. It took me time, but I’ve finally been able to find the “niche” I always wanted in college, and I believe this is possible for everyone.

 

Written by: Jena Tufail — jjtufail@ucdavis.edu 

 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.