There's a difference between solitude and loneliness." - Maggie Smith
When the students leave for the summer and you find yourself in an empty building, it is easy to feel alone. The halls which were originally filled with shouting, laughing, and music (usually at three in the morning) are now silenced and everything becomes a little more still. It's eerie in many ways, it was as if the building was abandoned overnight and the only things left behind were some old clothes hangers and some dust under the bed. I remember my first experience with this as an RA and even though this is my seventh summer being in the vacant rooms, it is hard not to feel alone and lonely during this down time.
Speaking from my own experience the feeling has traveled into my personal life as well. Now that I am in a "live-off" position, I have a house of my own which is off the beaten trail and only have an occasional deer or groundhog in the backyard to keep me company. Being in a long-distance relationship, being on a professional staff of one, and having family and old friends live more than an hour away doesn't help either. Almost every day after work, I come home to an empty house.
This post is not intended for you to feel sorry for me, but I wanted to begin the post by painting a picture of my current reality. The fact of the matter is that I am actually very happy in the life I lead currently. Sunday I wrote about the importance of a support network and although this is the most important thing, it is also required for you to develop an additional layer. This layer is a love of self.
When you are by yourself, take the time to figure out what being alone may look like for you. If you were by yourself for an extended period of time, what would you do with this time? The world can be a very lonely place, but it is up to our own decisions to be lonely or take advantage of a siutation. Take on a project you have always wanted to do, build a skill set, challenge yourself and push the envelope when it comes to your limits. We are our own worst critics, ironically enough, we also have the potential to be our own best supporters. Although we are all never truly alone in this world, find peace in the stillness, plan for the new students moving in this fall, and accomplish something amazing!
Question time: If you were by yourself for an extended period of time, what would you do?