Freshmen Should Value Alone Time

Okay, first thing’s first: you’re reading the Wheel, so good for you. A lot of freshmen don’t, so it’s encouraging to see someone new here interested in student journalism.

Secondly, I want to give you some — not quite advice — but definitely a scattering of thoughts. I’m just a sophomore. I don’t know … anything, in the grander sense of things. But I have some things you ought to know as you transition into the hot and sexy life of a college student.

Your parents and guardians probably told you some things about “decisions” or “alcohol,” some of which may have been valuable. Older friends may have spoken of “opportunities” and “meeting people.” Lovely, lovely stuff, I’m sure.

But college is not just an eternity of classrooms and fraternities. It is a lot of time spent: staring at your ceiling, walking around the quadrangle at 11:30 in the evening, and flipping vaguely through your book bag in a, frankly, weird 40-minute gap between one engagement and another. Not to belabor the point, but your alone time just became a significantly different sort of commodity.

Chances are your orientation leader didn’t speak much about solitude, and that’s fine. Their job is to bring you into Emory’s social universe, after all. But you’re in the test run of adulthood, and that means figuring out what to do with yourself. That’s a hefty notion. It doesn’t take much until it’s a few months later and you catch yourself surrounded by a few beloved friends and almost at the end of your classes’ syllabi and in a fun organization or four and you can’t pin down for certain what’s been going on within. Soul, essence, personality, heart. Whichever noun suits your philosophical inclinations.

I urge you, leave time for yourself. Think about your hometown and how much you love/hate it … Consider your new feelings and thoughts and actions and consider if you could justify them to yourself a year ago, and if that even really matters. Eat lunch at four when no one is in the DUC. Chart the progression of Georgia’s plant life through the seasons from the benches behind Bowden. Grab your time alone and say it is yours and that it is never ever ever going to be anyone else’s.

If this all sounds fluffy and abstract and a little goofy, I’m sorry. It’s just that not everyone knows that being alone can be positive or even okay. This isn’t a swipe at extroverts or a pat on the back for introverts. Solitude is an inevitability. Let it happen. If it gets to where you feel lonely and it just rips you up inside, then act against it. But mere aloneness is anything but “mere”.

I know I said this wasn’t going to be advice, but I do have one concrete thing to say. Read books you aren’t assigned. If you have the time, read voraciously. But just read and grow from it. I forget who, exactly, said it or wrote it, but someone who came before me said that college is defined by the books you chose to read.

One last thought before I go. This is wisdom that I got from a good friend’s mom before I left for college in August of 2011. “Go, learn things, have a lot of fun. Don’t get arrested. If you do get arrested, call a lawyer.” Food for thought, most definitely.

Rhett Henry is a College sophomore from Lawrenceville, Ga.