Living alone can be challenging when you’re not used to it. You might mistake boredom, homesickness, or the fact that you’re just not used to being alone, for loneliness. This blog gives you ways to find joy in living alone and how to be happy alone.
A few years ago, Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone expressed her struggles with mental health. She was fairly vocal about the difference between choosing solitude and feeling isolated, or in other words, the difference between living alone, and being happy alone versus a feeling of loneliness, irrespective of whether you are alone or not.
Starting college often means moving to a new city or even a different state. When this happens, a lot like Deepika, you might find yourself feeling alone even in a crowded classroom, cafeteria, or club. You might also find yourself living alone, or being alone a lot.
So what can you do about it? How can you enjoy life alone? Is that even possible?
It is. There are lots of people who will tell you that being alone is peaceful or that living alone is the best. But to understand that, you need to learn to survive alone.
Let’s start by figuring out why you feel like that in the first place.
Why Do You Feel Lonely In College?
- Fear of acceptance by college peers - College often means leaving your trusty high school sidekick behind and having to make new friends. You step into college, and instantly there's that fear, “Will I fit in?”. The weight of needing acceptance from peers can make you feel lonely. However, if you knew how to be happy alone, you might be able to reduce this fear.
- Shyness - If you’re shy, college can feel overwhelming. Finding your voice in a classroom surrounded by chatter can be the ultimate challenge.
- New culture - New place, new rules. Many of you may have shifted cities or states for higher education. The unfamiliar environment, and homesickness, can sometimes trigger loneliness.
- New roommates - Sharing space isn’t always easy. There may be differences in the way you live. Worse, you might have to navigate an empty room's silence and learn to survive alone. This journey of adjustment can make you feel incredibly lonely.
- The pressure of all eyes on you - Some people enjoy all the attention, but many of you might feel really “exposed” when standing in front of a crowd while trying to give a presentation or host an event. (Or even entering a lecture room after everyone is already there and feeling everyone’s eyes on you).
- Being different: If you’re in any way different from the rest of your peers, likely, you might not find a set of friends easily, and while you should always honour your true self, this situation might result in you feeling lonely. If this is you, chances are that you have already learned to live alone at least to some extent.
How To Live Alone Happily: 10 Ways to Live Happily When Feeling Lonely In College
The first thing you need to understand is that you can be happy alone. When you think about it, you will realize that being alone, and living alone, are not the same thing as being lonely. Instead of moping about the fact that you are alone, start focusing your efforts on figuring out how to be happy alone.
Here is a list of tips on how to live alone happily. By the end of it, you might just decide that it’s better to live alone.
- Eat well and eat healthy: A balanced meal that also tastes good can make your day! When you’re not well-fed, you’re more likely to feel negative emotions. Besides, not nourishing yourself might result in you falling sick, and getting stuck in bed. That’s sure to make you feel more lonely!
- Get to know yourself: If you’ve never tried this, you might not initially know what it means. However, give it a try: When you spend time by yourself, you can get to know yourself and learn to be alone. You can also fuel this process with a genetic test that tells you all your personality traits, talents, and aptitudes so that you can reflect on who you are and what you want to be.
People actually pay good money for this kind of solitude and self-reflection; you’re getting a chance to do it as part of your college lifestyle. Isn’t that great? This type of testing can also tell you what is standing in the way of your learning to live alone.
- Get up, dress up, get out: Feeling “meh?” Get moving. Put on your favourite music and dance (easier than ever if you live alone), pick up a workout from YouTube, hit the gym, join a martial arts class, or just go for a run or brisk walk. That adrenaline burst will boost your mood instantly. Plus, you might make some friends at the gym, martial arts class, or on your run.
- Take breaks from social media: Ever felt more alone scrolling through feeds? Social media often gives you a sense of FOMO and discontentment. Stop looking at groups of people in pictures and feeling sorry for yourself. Go out and have a real-life conversation instead, or pick up the phone and talk to a friend.
- Try a self-date: Why wait for company for a movie, a café visit, or a museum trip. Find something interesting to do, and go do it instead of wondering how to be happy alone. This is a crucial skill when learning to survive alone – you must develop the confidence to go do things you love alone. Also, you never know… you might make a new friend with similar interests.
- Exploit the perks of being alone: You’re finally king/ queen of your castle. Pick up new skills, read, paint, doodle, explore DIY crafts… and don’t forget to make time to study. When you learn to live alone, you realise you have time for everything you want to do.
- Clean up your space: Learning to survive alone is learning to pick up after yourself. A messy space always makes you feel worse. Clean up. (Your photos will also look better!)
- Maintain your relationships: Call your friends back home (or if you’re in the same city, make time to continue meeting them). It’s easier being alone on weekdays when you know you’re going to meet your besties over the weekend – in person, or on a video call!
- Participate in college activities: Seminars, events, workshops – dive in. It's about more than participation; it's about belonging. Plus, you might make a couple of friends and feel less lonely.
- Don’t compare: When you learn to be alone, it is important to not compare your social calendar to everyone else’s. Instead of trying to measure up, try to incorporate some of the ideas on this list and redirect your efforts to learning how to live alone happily. You might have jobs after you graduate, that send you to new and exciting places. Wouldn’t you like to enjoy that?
Being Alone Isn’t Necessarily A Bad Thing
Living alone gives you time to find yourself, build your independence, and try new things. When you learn to live alone happily, you give yourself the chance to become a stronger, more self-sufficient individual, and this will help you tremendously in the years ahead of you.