Alone, But Not Lonely

College is full of contradictions. On the one hand, it feels like you are never alone; your roommate is constantly in your room, the libraries are always full, and the dining hall line seems never-ending. It’s impossible to walk down a street in New York and not move past herds of people sipping iced lattes, chatting with their friends on the phone. Not to mention, the subways are always crowded, filled with commuters and business people on their way to work. And it seems like the lines for coffee shops are becoming increasingly longer…and pricier. 

And, yet, life can still feel so isolating. You’re away from your family—maybe for the first time—and it feels like everyone has rushed into meeting people, feeling the need to replicate the high school friendships of times past; late nights are spent studying in the library for a class filled with students from all over the world, none of whom you know; and you move through the dining hall, interacting only with those who serve your food and eat it at a bench outside. Sometimes, the subway cars are empty, leaving you alone with your thoughts and little distractions; a walk in the park can feel lonesome, your only company being the nearby birds and ducks. Overall, the feeling of the city is new and unknown. 

“Save my love for loneliness” by Aftab Uzzaman is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

It can be difficult as a new student to reckon with these two extremes of constant companionship and lasting loneliness. Doing both is healthy, but spending time in one state can be mentally (and physically) exhausting for you, especially as you are finding your way in college. Therefore, it is necessary to find a happy medium where you’re content with meeting people and spending time socializing, but also learn how to take time for yourself. 

That’s why, when I am alone doing an activity typically done with others, I think of myself as alone…but not lonely. I have learned throughout my time in college so far, how to take time for myself and go out in the city by myself. I am content with doing activities alone because I don’t necessarily have to be lonely! Throughout the next chapters of my book, I will share activities I have done both alone, and with a friend, demonstrating how every day as a college student in New York can be an adventure—but an adventure that is okay to take on by yourself when needed. 

Main Reminders:

  • College can be extremely exciting and fast-paced, but also isolating. Don’t be shy to take time for yourself and recharge when needed!

By Rania Borgani

Rania Borgani is a second-year student at Barnard College, majoring in the Economics Department with a focus on the political economy. She spends her time writing and editing for a campus news site. When she’s not working, you can find her reading, drinking copious amounts of coffee, or walking aimlessly around the city with friends

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