Learning to live alone

Existing without your safety net

I am the type of person that picks up her phone to call someone the moment I am left alone on my way to class or in my car. Whenever I get home and the house is empty and dark, I text my roommates right away to see when they will be home. Even back at my parent’s house, when they leave town I sometimes sleep in their room, as if this will somehow, nonsensically, make me feel as if I am less alone.

Needless to say, I am not the kind of person that really likes indefinite alone time. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love having time to myself and truly value those moments when I find some chance for solitary reflection, whether it be sitting alone and reading a book, losing myself amid the quiet Alderman Library stacks to study for an afternoon or disappearing for an hour to go for a run by myself.

But these are all moments when I am by myself but not truly alone — if I really wanted to, I could open my bedroom door or go out onto the main floor of Alderman and come across a familiar face, taking a break from my self-imposed separation to reintegrate myself into the world for a bit. It’s the moments of true isolation that really scare me — those instances where you can open all the doors you want or walk out onto the streets all day but still not see anyone you know, finding yourself unmoored and adrift from any sort of identifying centrality.

After four years of having lived with roommates, either in a dorm, apartment or sorority house, I am now so accustomed to being surrounded by friends at all times that to find a moment in which I truly feel alone is rare, and, when it does come, it is frightening, leaving me with a sense of uselessness and meaninglessness.

Moments like these make me confront the reality of life after all these connections are no longer commonplace. Can I ever truly survive completely alone? This question has resounded in my head over and over again these past six months, as I prepare myself for my life ahead. Can I do this on my own?

I think I can, and I think we all can. Our 20s are the time in which we are supposed to feel uprooted, adrift, unmoored, whatever you want to call it — it is the time for uncertainty. It is the time to stumble, to wander, to muddle through and keep going now matter how complicated or confusing things might seem. It is the time to trust yourself.

And, most importantly, I think it is the time in which we can foster the most lasting relationship we’ll have — that with ourself. Out of these moments where I must learn to trust myself, I will grow, I will learn more about myself, and I will slowly accept that I don’t need to be talking to someone at every hour of the day or know that a friend lives just down the hall — I have myself.

And out of these terrifying moments, I will come to realize that is enough.

Mimi’s column runs biweekly Wednesdays. She can be reached at

Published December 3, 2013 in Life

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