However long you spend as a college student at UC Berkeley, the time is never enough.
There is simply too much to do and the days get away from you; before you know it, you’re sitting on campus thinking about how graduation is only a few weeks away.
As I sit and write this, there is less than one month until I’m walking the stage at commencement and concluding my time here. I’ve made so many great memories with even greater people, people whom I am fortunate enough to call my friends.
Even with all of the good things that have happened, I can’t help but think about the things that never did. From the intramural sports I never played to the events I never attended, these were all opportunities that I will probably never be able to experience.
As a freshman, I did occasionally test my boundaries, trying out a cycling class or joining clubs by myself. I am proud of the things younger me did solo. Had I not done the latter, I wouldn’t be a senior staffer at this paper, nor would I have gained the experiences and friends I now have. I needed to step away from my friends and go my own way.
Despite all of this, however, hindsight now lets me know that I let my fear of loneliness drive me away from doing many other things of interest.
Though I can attribute the time lost here to the pandemic and graduating early, I ultimately stood in my own way as I was too afraid of doing the things I wanted to do with only myself.
So often, being alone is conflated with being lonely, but this does not have to be true. Learning how to comfortably spend time by myself has been one of the best lessons I have ever taken away.
Much of my ability to be on my lonesome probably came from the stay-at-home orders put in place over the last couple of years. The rest has definitely been prompted by the knowledge that these are my last few months here. Regardless of the origin, my ability to not only be on my own but to do so publicly has allowed me to do so many things this past academic year.
Even the smallest things, such as having paint nights alone, has drastically increased my personal happiness and helped me deal with the all-too-familiar awareness that time is running out.
Just this semester, I went to watch a movie I had been waiting months to see and checked out that one view in the city I had always wanted to explore — and all by myself. Previously, I had always waited for someone to come on the adventure with me.
When you first begin college as a newly legal, wide-eyed adult, the possibilities seem endless. Despite having experienced four years of high school — most of which passed in the blink of an eye — you can’t help but feel like you have forever when you begin this new chapter of your life. Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble, but you don’t. Time is precious and fleeting. Sooner or later, you will find yourself reflecting and wondering: “Where has the time gone?”
Enjoying your own company is a great life skill. While it is never too late to learn how to be by yourself, the sooner you do, the better you’ll be able to capitalize on your time here as a student on campus.
We have so many campus events that are unique to UC Berkeley, and even cooler local businesses. It is truly a tragedy to not explore and branch out.
How are you going to attend this school but not try one of the thousands of boba places; have a picnic on Memorial Glade; eat at Artichoke Basille’s Pizza in the wee morning hours; or go to a concert at the Greek Theatre?
Of course, there is the common struggle of balancing your responsibilities as a student and the demands of your social life, but you should never sacrifice your personal interests and what is fulfilling to you. As monstrous as it may sound, you won’t be a student forever, and some of your college friends won’t be around after graduation.
Yes: Put in the work academically and foster relationships with those who bring you joy, but if the only constant is yourself, why put that second?
From one student to another, do not miss out on opportunities just because your friends don’t want to do them with you. Doing things alone is scary, but I urge you to lean into that fear. The discomfort is where you truly begin to find yourself. You’ll find new prospects and meet new people you otherwise might not have.