Being Alone ≠ Lonely
Making the adjustment from a collective culture to an individual one
Growing up, having been raised to be diplomatic hasn’t always been the best thing. A lot of the traits you absorb goes along the lines of being a “people pleaser.” It sticks with you too, and affects all aspects of your life: a lot of putting other people’s needs before your own. Of course, that leads to feelings of exhaustion and if left unattended — depression. Not only that, you can feel lonely despite the chunk of people around you!
It’s not always the case though, you reap benefits too: a life of fulfillment and connections. That’s my experience growing up with a collective culture. Now that I live and study in a different country, everything is shifting. Not only my mindset but the cultural norms within me too.
How it started
In my first semester at Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC), I made it a goal to make as many friends as possible, sticking to my own “pack.” As enjoyable as it was, there were negative aspects to this dependence on people — I struggled being with myself. Whenever I would be stuck alone my mind would crave to be around others. And I’ve decided to change that — recently.
Taking the first step is usually the hardest; to me, this was spending most of my time alone. I was not ready nor suited for this type of company (it’s just me). It takes a long while to get used to. But eventually, one realizes that your worth isn’t tied to how others think or feel about you — this feeling is almost freeing. I used to think it was awkward to be seen alone, with no one around me, when it’s the time I feel the least lonely.
It’s also the best because you’ve no need to please anyone but yourself; like going on a specific green run while you’re snowboarding, not needing to wait for people to come down and stop multiple times—though it’s fun going out with friends, it’s a different kind of fun and experience to go by yourself. And as an international student, being alone is an inevitability!
How it’s going
There is so much power that comes with being able to truly stand on your own: being alone can’t make you feel lonely, rather the opposite. Especially during the times of February when people go around and celebrate hearts day while you’re there taking your homework out on a date. At the end of the day, you’ve only got yourself to lean on. Sure, support systems are there, but it’s up to you to face the challenges you come across.
|Alaine Obra from the Philippines is studying for an associate’s degree in computer science at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada.|
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