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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-20-24 PDF
February 20, 2024
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February 12, 2024

Advice from the Arts Editor: It’s okay to be alone

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Hunter Berry
A UMass Boston student sits with a book at the Harborwalk just off campus. Photo by Hunter Berry / Mass Media Staff

As the summer after high school came to a close, my friends were faced with the excitement of starting a new semester, and I was faced with my semester of loneliness looming over my future. No matter how many tears were cried, arguments fought or dreams crushed, nothing changed the fact that I needed to take a gap semester.
As a teenager who knew nothing but following her friends’ footsteps, this was heartbreaking. I would have to truly be by myself from the time they all left for school to the day they returned from their first semesters. Those four months, however sad and lonely I felt at the beginning, were what I truly needed to start on my journey as an adult. I learned how to be alone.
When most people think of growing up, this skill isn’t at the forefront of their minds, but it is truly the best lesson I have ever learned in life.
On social media, there has been a new trend of taking yourself out on dates as a way to get in your “me time.” This isn’t super necessary and it can be helpful to those who already have self-confidence, but a lot of us aren’t like that. We can’t just go out to eat by ourselves without immense amounts of anxiety.
To those in that situation, this is for you. Start small, like taking advantage of those moments when your friends are all in class to have a moment to yourself. The moment can be as simple as sitting at a table in Campus Center alone with your Dunkin’ coffee and bagel.
During my gap semester, there were so many little things I didn’t even think of that brought me anxiety to do by myself. I hated going to the grocery store, going to the mall or getting coffee, just because I thought everyone was looking at me. But the reality was, no one was paying me the slightest attention. Everyone was wrapped up in their own worlds with their own problems.
During that time, I heard a piece of advice from some random podcast or video that said “what makes you so special that makes everyone turn their heads?” And while it sounds kind of mean, that small question relieved a lot of the anxiety I was feeling at the time.
If you don’t want to be alone in public at first, that’s okay. Try finding small activities to do by yourself in the comfort of your own home. Over time, you should start to savor those little moments to yourself and you can build up the courage to enjoy these moments out of the house. While it may seem like more fun to hang out with your friends, it’s essential to be able to function on your own.
This realization came soon after my friends left for school, when I came to terms with the idea that I hadn’t enjoyably spent time alone, probably in years. Once I was left with literally no other option and I was forced to do every task by myself, I found ways to make it a little more enjoyable.
I took my big, bulky headphones that hadn’t been touched since I opened them on Christmas day the year prior and made them my new best friend. I was constantly playing playlists I made for every emotion I would ever need a soundtrack for. This became my therapy, and now, more than a year later, my friends tease me about how I never leave the house without them.
At first, I thought I would look weird with my silver headphones covering my ears, but no one paid any attention to it. People tend to pick the weirdest things to make insecurities about; ones that no one would really notice otherwise. So if you take one thing from this article, it would be this: Find your headphones. Find your emotional support piece that doesn’t really make sense to anyone but you, because in the end, the only person you need to please is yourself.

About the Contributors
Rena Weafer, Arts Editor
Hunter Berry, Photographer