I completed my first two years of college traveling back and forth from my parent’s home to UCA. January will be the first anniversary of living on my own.

All the time I’ve spent alone has brought about more reflection and realization than I signed up for. As an introvert, it’s easy for me to tell people that living alone is the best thing ever, but I know that the idea of being on your own can be scary.

Being a college student who lives alone is challenging, but it’s also rewarding in some unexpected ways. Living alone has taught me far more than I expected, so I’m going to share a few lessons that I’ve learned from my time alone.

Lesson one: Asking for help doesn’t take away your independence. When you finally get out there on your own, you’re going to notice all of the things you forgot or maybe never even learned. You’ll probably feel a little lost at first, but that’s normal. Don’t tell yourself that you need to handle things on your own just because you’re living alone. If you need help with something or if you don’t know something, ask for help from friends or family. They’ll understand, and chances are, they’ve been waiting for you to open up and ask.

I’d like to think that I’ve always been a pretty independent person, so this was a hard thing for me to get on board with. But now I know how to ask for help before things get too overwhelming. And for me, that’s practically a daily occurrence.

Lesson two: Keep in contact with those who keep you grounded. Being alone for the majority of your time can take a toll on your mental health without you realizing it. While you’re alone, you may realize just how big of a buffer your friends and family are to your demons. Everyone has them, sometimes they take a while to make themselves known. Most of the time, they strike when you’re alone. My advice for this, especially since we’re in the middle of a pandemic, is to pick up your phone and call someone.

Call your best friend and ask how work was. Call your parents, grandparents, or siblings to check in and see how life is going. Call your significant other and tell them you miss them. If you’re comfortable enough with the person you choose to call, let them know what’s been going on in your head. Sometimes, we just need to get the feelings out to experience some relief. Ask them how life has been treating them because focusing on others can help us with our own mental health.

Lesson three: Set a timer when you take a break from working. It can be 10, 20, even 30 minutes, but seriously, set a timer. If you take a break from writing your eight-page paper to watch TikTok at 8:30, before you know it, two hours have passed and now you just want to go to bed. Not that I’ve ever done that or anything. I’m just looking out for you. Seems like a pretty solid idea though, right?

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