In high school, teachers often deemed me either a chatterbox or social butterfly. Did I speak a lot during class about things that were not necessarily about topics in any lesson plan? Of course, but in my defense, I felt like very few people really have to know the ins and outs of calculus, while everyone needed to know my steaming hot takes on which member of One Direction was the most likely to succeed as a solo artist. And the recent release of “Lights Up” (2019) by Harry Styles has proven me right. If I am put in an enclosed space with 20 to 30 people of whom I even moderately enjoy the company, my entire ability to focus on academic material is lost.
Therefore, study groups are my worst nightmare. While I am always not the only reason why the group gets off-task, I certainly am, in most circumstances, the catalyst for why the discussion suddenly shifts from Shakespeare to Cardi B‘s latest Instagram livestream. This personality trait of mine has forced me to somewhat forgo the casual coffee shop study session with a friend in favor of migrating to the library with my headphones on if I want to get any sort of serious work done.
Despite the hundreds of videos I watched and articles I read before entering college that gave advice such as buying shower caddies, there was no conversation about how part of the college experience is being able to be comfortable alone. Whether it is grabbing lunch in between classes alone in the dining hall or having to buy more toothpaste while the rest of my suite is doing homework, sometimes I am forced to venture out into the brisk Northeast fall armed with only me, myself and I (and AirPods).
Having a copious amount of alone time has also made me realize the impact of music on my mood. I have a tendency to wallow and overdramatize the perils of the regular downs of life, and after listening to some Phoebe Bridgers, I can accidentally convince myself that dropping out of college is what regular people do after getting A-minuses.
I am two years into this ludicrously expensive adventure that, at times, feels like a flawed social experiment. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that being alone doesn’t have to feel like “Only Living Boy in New York” (1970) by Simon & Garfunkel. While I still haven’t lost my social butterfly tendencies, my unwarranted anxiety about doing activities alone has faded because life has to happen and errands have to be run regardless of whether my friends are able to tag along. I still am by no means an introvert, but I have come to value the times when I walk back from a day of class accompanied only by Charli XCX’s “Vroom Vroom” (2016), which perfectly pairs with both the sounds of the airplanes that fly above campus and the nearby train screeching.