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Jan 24 2018
by Alex Mauriello

How My Sorority Taught Me the Difference Between Being Alone and Being Lonely

By Alex Mauriello - Jan 24 2018
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I’m the type of person that enjoys watching TV or reading a book as much as I do hanging out with friends. Especially after a long, stressful week of classes, I sometimes even prefer it. So when I got to college, one of the hardest things I had to adjust to was a lack of privacy. In high school, if I was having a bad day, I could just run upstairs and chill in my room. But now, I usually went straight from class, to the library, to a tiny dorm room that I shared with someone else. I longed for a little time to my self, where I could just relax, unwind and not constantly have to make small talk. But midway through my first semester of freshman year, I got my wish in the worst possible way.

Despite my mom’s protests, I had chosen to live with my friend from home. I was incredibly nervous about living on my own for the first time, and I knew that this small thing would be a huge comfort to me as I adjusted to my new life. And at first, it was.

On move-in day, as my floor mates chatted excitedly about how much fun college was going to be, I unpacked the last few remnants of my old life and tearfully wondered how I was supposed to begin completely anew. But my roommate was calm and confident, and as we headed to the dining hall to have dinner with the rest of our floor, I began to feel much better. But before my parents left that night, they warned me to put myself out there and make new friends, not to just hang out with my roommate all the time. I shrugged it off, knowing I had all of welcome week plus people in my classes to meet. I had gotten through my first day, and I had someone to get me through my first year, and that’s all that mattered.

As welcome week began, my roommate and I mostly stayed by each others’ side, but we did make a bunch of new friends. After a while, the five or six of us broke off from the rest of our floor and formed our own group, making plans to have lunch or dinner every day and hanging out after classes. It was great. But as everyone got to know each other better, it became apparent that some of us just didn’t mesh. Our group was reduced to five, then to four, then to three, not including me. In a matter of days, I went from having a bunch of people I could text whenever to meet up with to no one at all. And I didn’t even know why.

After finishing my homework, I would just sit on my phone for an extra hour in the library because I had no where else to go. When I was done for the night, I prayed that my roommate and her friends wouldn’t be there so I could sit in my room without feeling incredibly uncomfortable. I had all the time in the world now, but what I wanted most was someone to share it with. My floor mates had already formed their own groups; I had gone to a few club meetings and met some nice people, but didn’t become close enough to actually hang out. It got to the point where I began to look forward to going to class – just so I would have people to talk to. I marveled at the fact that despite going to a school with over 7,000 people I could still feel completely lonely.

Soon, I began to resent everything. I was angry at my parents for pressuring me to go to this school in the first place. I was frustrated at myself for choosing my own rooming situation when I knew better. And I was jealous of my friends back home, elated about their own new friends, making memories and having experiences that I was missing out on.

So as I prepared for my sophomore year move-in day (this time, in a single), I knew I had to make a major change. I didn’t want to waste the next three years of college sitting alone in my room; I could do that on break at home. Putting my greatest fears aside, desperate to meet new people, I forced myself to join a sorority. On bid day, I was welcomed with open arms to 90+ people eager and excited to get to know me. I had finally found my place. And I never looked back. 

During the weeks of my new member education,  I got to know a group of girls that all joined for similar reasons to me. Since freshmen can't rush in the fall at my school, my pledge class consisted of transfers looking to make a fresh start, and sophomores and juniors who, like me, were just looking to meet new people. Together, we bonded over activities such as apple picking, half apps, and weekly meetings. After initiation, I got to be more involved within the sorority and got to know the older sisters better. Suddenly, I had people to vent to when I needed advice, people to grab lunch with and even people to sit in the library with. I soon realized I never had to be alone if I didn't want to be.

By the end of the year I grew more confident, outgoing and just overall happy. Although I still occasionally like having time for myself, I am incredibly grateful for all the people I have met and all the memories I have made and will continue to make throughout my college career. Because of this experience, I entered my junior year excited to form more friendships, and with the support of my sisters, be prepared for whatever may come my way.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Alex Mauriello - The College of New Jersey

Alex is a junior at The College of New Jersey. She loves pizza, her dogs, and using excessive amounts of sarcasm. Follow her on insta @alex_mauriello12

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