My brother often jokes that I suffer from a severe case of only-child syndrome. By my estimation, this really just means that I need my own space, and so spending Christmas alone on campus – which I will, unfortunately, have to do this year – isn’t the end of the world.
However, the fact that I will have to spend the break away from my family is difficult and I know that the next couple of weeks will be hard. But I do believe that I have some nuggets of wisdom that will help me through.
Living alone isn’t easy and living alone on campus last summer proved this for me. I had to live through lockdown on campus in an empty flat – and I mean the proper “don’t leave your house, or else” lockdown of the spring and summer.
Level-five restrictions will probably mean Christmas break will be similar enough to the summer, and while I try not to think of the Dark Days of March, April, May, June, I have learned a thing or two about living completely alone that may be of help to those who are facing a lonely Christmas break.
My brother often jokes that I suffer from a severe case of only-child syndrome. By my estimation, this really just means that I need my own space
(To begin, the usual advice: have a regular sleeping pattern, eat well and exercise. These are so well known that they go without saying, despite the fact that I am not very good at them. One other healthy habit is keeping in touch with those around you, even over Zoom. But now to the less intuitive advice.)
My first piece of advice is: play video games. I’m not a big video game fan, and for most of the year I prefer reading or watching movies to playing a game. However, being really, really alone is a different kettle of fish to living alone day to day. You will need an escape route from your head, and I have found that video games (in my case story-based Nintendo Switch games) are a perfect escape route.
Over the summer, while I self isolated, I played a game called Firewatch, in which a man called Henry moves into a firewatch tower in the Shoshone National Park, with only a woman called Delila on a walkie talkie for company. It’s creepy and the graphics are beautiful, and you just get drawn into this great story that pulls the rug from under you time and time again. It’s the perfect way to escape the loneliness – which there will be plenty of.
If you don’t have a console, your laptop should do the trick. If no laptop, then your phone. If you don’t have a phone, then this piece of advice can probably be disregarded, but fear not, the rest of my advice will be applicable (I hope).
Secondly, plan out treats for yourself. Over the summer, my go-to treat was heading to the Pav with a few bottles of Carlsberg (probably), watermelon and something to read for an hour or two. Spacing these breaks out across the week helped break up the monotony, which is one of the curses of living alone.
A nice drink and some tasty food are simple pleasures that a recluse comes to relish. Reading takes your mind off everything and gives you perspective on your isolation. Your imagination is important when there’s nothing much to do, so keep it stimulated.
You will need an escape route from your head, and I have found that video games (in my case story-based Nintendo Switch games) are a perfect escape route
Finally, try to find some work to do. Picking a few work-related things to do everyday helps give your life more direction and you will feel more satisfied getting into bed every night knowing that you did something worthwhile.
The tasks don’t have to be mammoth (unless you want them to be), and don’t even need to be College related. Practising a hobby or writing in a journal or doing Duolingo also works.
These morsels of advice really helped me personally and I will be following them over the upcoming break. Living alone on campus (or anywhere) can be really tough at times, and our brains can begin to play tricks on us (for example, I was convinced my flat was haunted for about a week over the summer – one of my more insane periods).
Take care of yourself and remember that if you’re feeling awful, then that is totally valid. We’re social creatures, after all. Seek help (the counselling services are great) and make sure people know you don’t feel good. Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re on campus and things seem dark, you can drop down to security who will be able to help you out or call the Samaritans.
It’s important to remember also that the isolation will end, even if at times it feels like there is no end in sight. There is, and things will get better.