Whether you’re venturing off into the world studying abroad, or living in your college town by yourself this Summer, by “being on your own” you get to learn a lot about yourself and the world you live in.
This Summer, I’m back in SLO for the Summer “on my own,” and it’s incredible to see how much I have grown as a person since I first attempted to take care of myself last Summer when I moved back to SLO a few weeks earlier than everyone else. Through these two experiences, I have learned a few very important lessons that have made me grow up quicker and I’m grateful for those lessons very much.
1) Freedom Teaches you Responsibility
Within reason, of course. There’s no schedule you have to follow when you’re on your own, and you learn to make your own choices and deal with the outcome of those choices. Being by yourself is the ultimate freedom and it means that there’s no one stopping you from doing what you want to do whenever you want to do it. However, you have to learn to balance the freedom of doing what you want with the responsibility of being an adult. Choosing to make the right decisions is a skill that can only be learned when you have that freedom to make your own decisions in the first place.
2) Try New Things
Getting out of your comfort zone is empowering. When you feel safe, it seems like everything is nice and stable and good and warm and fuzzy. Sometimes, it takes some instability, and the removal of your safety net to make you realize how you are stronger than you thought. You learn about yourself and you learn how to meet new people and be more outgoing, you begin to try new things you wouldn’t have before, and you begin to grow as a person. Change is scary but not moving forward is even scarier. Take advantage of the new opportunities you have RIGHT NOW, and you will be rewarded!
3) Not Having Something There All The Time Makes You Appreciate It More
Often during the school year I’m too busy to stop and slow down and appreciate what makes my life as full as it is. Even if these things are not physically present for me right now over the Summer, such as my family, my best friends, and my boyfriend, I know that they are always going to be there for me a phone call or a short trip away. This makes me grateful to be where I am and look forward to enjoying time with them when I can in the future. It also makes me realize how grateful I am to be able to live in a beautiful city like San Luis Obispo, with so many things to do to occupy myself in my newfound free time.
4) People are Friendly.
Seriously. I know I live in San Luis Obispo which is supposedly the happiest city in America and this most likely does help with the whole “friendliness” thing, but there hasn’t been one day I have been here on my own where I haven’t met and connected with someone new. Whether it be in class, at work, at my internship, at a coffee shop, or just food shopping at Target, there’s always someone new to connect with. Put yourself out there, be friendly, and the universe will take care of the rest.
5) Stay connected with those you love
I enjoy it so much when a friend or family member contacts me, because it shows that they care. They care about you greatly even when you’re not together. Even if you’re not physically together right now, keep up your connections with people you love because they’re always going to be important to you, and because when you do inevitably feel lonely, they’re going to make you feel a million times better.
Sometimes I feel like there’s a stigma against being by yourself when you’re young. That if you’re alone in a restaurant or solo hiking, it means that you have no one to accompany you which makes you worth less. But that’s not true. As long as you have a balance of being social and spending time with yourself, by being by yourself you get the opportunity to appreciate your own company. You learn more about yourself than you ever could if you were constantly distracting yourself by keeping busy.
The truth of it is, even though it’s sometimes harder to come home to an empty apartment or be lacking someone to share dinner with, I still enjoy being in a place of so much opportunity for me and a place that I thrive. If you feel this way too, know that you’re in the right place and that you’re going to grow and learn so much about yourself through this time. And remember that you’re never truly alone.