Two years into college, two years to go. It’s safe to say that my life has adjusted to living in Oxford more than anywhere else.
A rather common notion, I’m sure. However, the change is one many students don’t talk about until it happens. Going from feeling like a minnow, tossed into the ocean, to feeling more like a stranger at home than you do at school is… unexpected.
You start school as someone from somewhere, with friends, stories and a life based “back home.” Then you’re thrown into living the first years of what all our parents call “the best years of your life,” to something totally different.
I’ve found myself halfway through my undergraduate education feeling like I’m vacationing at home for three months, returning back to where I live.
My friends live in Ohio while I spend these summer months in New York. I didn’t keep the relationships I had in high school because, well, frankly, they mostly sucked.
So, this summer, I faced realizing one of two things.
Do I loathe the very act of being home because I’ve detached myself from this archaic, high school way of my life, or do I make the most of it and find a way to enjoy myself even if it truly is just that: myself?
I chose the latter.
Be it going to a Paul McCartney concert and sitting alone, taking an ever-popular “hot girl walk” (or a couple dozen) or going to see a movie at the theater by myself, I paved the way for enjoying myself for myself.
I taught myself to be comfortable being alone when not being alone isn’t an option.
Letting myself enjoy the outdoors or have an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience, instead of sulking in my house waiting for the summer, crafted me into an entirely new person. Learning to enjoy life when not out with my friends has become a crucial part of living.
I can’t say that before this summer I had gone to a concert or a movie theater by myself, or taken so many walks and hikes by my lonesome.
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I can confidently tell you now that I am a much fuller person than I ever had been before.
Now, I admit, my situation is a bit on the deep end of things. Not everyone ends up hanging out or talking to virtually none of their high school friends after two years of college.
However, as we enter the fall semester, full of first-years roaming the “the most beautiful campus that ever there was,” knowing that there will be moments to yourself is valuable knowledge.
I write this to you, the class of 2026, to say this: there will be an infinite number of nights out with friends, a plethora of experiences of which you haven’t yet dreamt and worlds full of people to meet every day in a more plural community than you’ve ever yet experienced.
There will too, though, be moments to be by yourself.
These moments alone that you’ll come to appreciate for the few seconds of peace and quiet, or for the time it gives you to catch up on a show you love. These moments are different from that of high school and before.
College will be the most adult self you will have yet experienced. Take these moments to yourself to learn more about who you are, how to be comfortable with being by yourself and creating boundaries so you don’t overstretch yourself when out with friends (that one’s for you, my fellow introverts).
Take these moments as the blessing of introspection rather than the curse of loneliness. You’ll come to appreciate and enjoy the thousands of moments together much more.
Put simply: enjoy yourself.