Words by T. Bliss, Staff Writer

With the return to uni life and the flood of students back to Brighton after such a long period isolated and online, I find myself completely surrounded by other young people whenever I am on campus. Yet I have never experienced such an overwhelming feeling of imposter syndrome than I do now; every time I find myself on campus, I just cannot shake the feeling that I do not belong, no matter how much I push myself to get involved and meet new people. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed finally meeting my classmates and reuniting with familiar faces, but the pang of estrangement is just inescapable. However, this by no means is a terrible thing, for recently, I have come to learn the importance and gratification of thriving on my own.

I never used to enjoy my own company, in fact I would often willingly miss out on activities or events I wanted to do or see simply because none of my friends wanted to. Looking back, it seems insane, but at the time going alone never felt like an option – I always needed the company of others, someone to share the experience with. It was only this summer when I began going for little adventures and hikes around the South Downs on my own when friends were working or away that I discovered the peace and joy that came with independence. Going alone may sound isolating but on the contrary, it can be so freeing and offers a chance for you to find the perspective you may have been searching for. Once you have found comfort in not relying on others to be happy you discover a calm and a different kind of contentment. It is so rewarding to be able to find joy in others as well as yourself, and it can do wonders for your own wellbeing – especially in stressful times around assessment periods and deadlines at uni when it can be difficult to find the time to meet up with friends.

I think there is often the feeling that it is more important to make the effort to meet up and do things with others, which certainly is incredibly important to get that social interaction and develop your support network. But it is equally vital that you take the time to learn how to spend time alone in ways that benefit you. Whether that be the freedom to go to the restaurant you’ve wanted to try but your friends don’t like, or to find peace from independence to gather your thoughts and focus on yourself. 

Now I am not saying you should aim to always be alone and live independently: I love my friends more than anything in the world and I adore spending time with them. But I definitely believe it is so important and rewarding to push yourself to try it and find how you can truly enjoy your own company, be braver to go out alone and do the things you’ve wanted to do even when others can’t or don’t want to do it with you. I think we so easily associate being on your own with loneliness, when the people who do go out alone and live freely by themselves are most at peace with their own company and feel lonely a lot less than the rest of us. So, I really encourage you to take that step, stop worrying about the others around you and go out and do what you want to do, knowing that you can do anything without needing anyone. Just be brave. 

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