College is a time when we are seemingly constantly surrounded by people — which is amazing. I love people, and I’m about as extroverted as a person can get. But, I’ve come to a point where I now realize there is a time when I need to allow myself to be alone. During this time alone, one needs to step back and totally release from the commotion that surrounds us. I often find myself so caught up in what I can do for other people that I forget to take care of myself. What has helped me to truly realize this and understand that I need to spend time taking care of myself too, is simply going out on my own and finding my own independence. When I am walking around London by myself or even sitting at a café alone, I make a true effort to stay off my phone and spend that time engaged in the present moment. When I am present with my own thoughts, without the thoughts of others circulating in my head, I feel more apt to trust my personal intuition. I’ve never been one to “just go with my gut” — I am usually a major overthinker. But because I have embraced this new-found independence, I am now used to relying on myself, and I feel confident relying on my instinct.
Spending time alone is where you learn to follow your inner voice, allowing that voice to guide you rather than letting the thoughts or opinions of others obscure what you truly want. Once you learn to follow your inner voice and you learn to filter out the outside influences, you will be more apt to make good decisions — the decisions that are right for YOU. I have noticed that by following my instinct and by making the right decisions for myself, I have felt incredibly liberated. Of course doing things for others is so important, and it is essential to care for others too. Yet, there is a point where we need to give ourselves that same time and attention. We are strong and can stand to take care of ourselves too. This inner voice and inner strength are rooted in realizing our true wants and needs and discovering our true selves. This is done by embracing our independence.
Whether you choose to embrace this independence by going on a walk around Bloomington alone, going to a yoga class alone, or grabbing a table for one, you are the one who chooses. Personally, much of my semester has consisted of exploring the city of London by myself or flying to other cities solo. This has been such a defining experience because by focusing on solely myself and my personal journey for the day, my eyes are much more open to my surroundings and how I can use my surroundings to get to where I want to go. It is me and the world and nothing in between. I am now so much more confident in my decisions and so much more relaxed with the life I lead. Spending my valuable gift of time on myself has helped me to be so content with who I truly am.
On a more extreme note of embracing independence, Cheryl Strayed in her novel Wild recalls how she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, from the Mojave Desert to the Oregon-Washington state line, completely alone. It became a spiritual journey that ultimately saved her. Pure bravery and grit pushed her to rely on herself, and herself only, to complete this journey. A journey on which she found and embraced herself after being lost for so long.
Whether we are an extrovert or an introvert, in college or on the journey of a lifetime, we must find that time alone to embrace ourselves and our own independence.
Table for one, please?
Author: Mandy Novicoff is a junior majoring in Marketing and Professional Sales. She is currently enjoying studying abroad in London, England!
Pictures from Mandy’s adventures in London: