May was the end of Ramadan, and I spent a lot of my ramadan attending the additional prayers after sundown, trying my best to be spiritual and sometimes succeeding, other times failing...but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop trying.
The weeks following Ramadan have been a blur of classes, my cousin’s wedding, graduations, and just generally, a lot of hard conversations. Needless to say, this summer has been pretty busy.
Currently, I’m participating in a pre-law summer program that is ~probably~ the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Although the program is 9-5 and sometimes, 6:30-8:30, I find myself getting used to that part. What I haven’t gotten used to, however, is being alone.
All throughout college thus far, I’ve commuted from home. The longest I’ve had to be alone has been the 45 minute car drives to and fro, and that kind of alone time is standard and sometimes necessary. Frankly, I never think too much of that alone time because no matter what, I get to pull into the driveway of my parents’ home and am greeted by a houseful of comfort food, roasts, my big ‘ole family and more recently, a furry little cat.
So when I was presented with the opportunity to spend one month in a college dorm room without a roommate as a part of this program, I jumped at the chance. I was excited for all the freedom I would have: no curfew, no one force feeding me roti, and the ability to own my own space and decorate, have my VERY OWN plates, and be ~free~.
I went on a decorating and shopping craze, sketching visions for my dream room, and trying to bargain with IKEA employees (to no avail). My friends came to help me move in, and it was fun to organize things, hang fairy lights, and throw pillows at each other. However, after they left and I changed for bed, rubbed Vitamin E creme on my face (I really recommend this, by the way), and laid in bed... I felt empty and suffocated.
The dorm room was too still and almost haunting. There was no one to kiss goodnight or wake up for a midnight snack...it was just me, all alone, and by myself. And it was terrifying.
In the weeks that followed, my loneliness intensified. It didn’t help that I felt like everyone in my cohort was getting along super well, and that I convinced myself that I was the only one who got my dinner to go and sat alone and ate from the little styrofoam box while watching Parks and Recreation in bed. This toxic mentality that everyone constantly hung out without me led me to minimize social interaction with others and keep to myself, something very out of character for a sprightly extrovert like myself.
I complained to my friends about this and pestered them with questions like “how do people just leave their homes and move away for college?!” or “how do you cope with being alone all the time?!” ,to which they were always shocked. To them, moving away for college was a fact of life, and here I was moping about loneliness when my family was a forty five minute drive away. But my friends are good friends, so they comforted me by promising that the first week is always the hardest and that it will surely get better.
Three weeks into the program, I finally find myself adjusting.
My experience thus far has taught me that, if you’re a new face in a new place along with others and feel out of place and confused, chances are that others feel the same way. After the storm that was the first week passed, I finally sat myself down and tried very hard to accept the fact that I’m an adult now and I have to get used to remembering to eat and deciding what to wear by myself. As someone who wants to leave the state for law school, I ESPECIALLY had to swallow this pill and adjust.
So whether you’re moving out for college or starting a new job in a new city, I promise that the first week is exceptionally hard...but once you get through that first week, things will look brighter and better. Comfort yourself by starting a journal to collect your thoughts, calling home often, and stepping out of your comfort zone, because life starts where your comfort zone ends.