As I grow older, I tend to enjoy more and more time alone, whether that consists of walking downtown by myself, or having a nightcap and quietly reading on a Thursday instead of going out.
It’s not that I’m completely an introvert — I just like to find a moderate balance between spending time with others and having some space alone. Many of my friends, I’m learning, find this concept very strange and borderline asocial. I think it’s difficult for some people to remove themselves from a group setting for more than a few hours, a trait I find to be almost insecure.
For example, after a day of classes or a weekend out partying, I like to browse old bookstores near the Common and then just read for a while, or maybe do something as mundane as go to Whole Foods and pick up some brie. I just find friends too distracting sometimes, and no one else has the patience to just wander aimlessly for an afternoon.
And not to sound completely Carrie Bradshaw, but Boston is interesting enough to keep my brain stimulated even more than a conversation with someone else. Why would I care about some boring gossip that has been repeated since eighth grade when I can get lost in a new place? Ideas don’t come to me as often with other people around as they do when I’m exploring alone.
I also find it tiring to keep conversations flowing. Unless I’m with a close friend, it’s somewhat of a struggle to debate in my head what I’m going to say, wondering whether I’m being too politically incorrect, spacey or ditsy for an individual’s taste — and let’s be honest, nobody likes an awkward silence.
While I loved being in London over the summer, I tended to enjoy quieter pubs more than strobe-lit, sardine-packed clubs, even though free champagne was always nice. When I went to a museum, I usually decided to go by myself because I think looking at art is a more individual experience than a group one.
I do, however, like to come home to close friends. One of my greatest fears is sleeping alone at night, with no one around, probably because I’ve experienced a break-in (okay, it was just a maintenance person, but still). I’d say 40 percent social time, 60 percent idle time is a decent balance.
Something I’ve never understood is other people’s tendency to work out at the gym in groups. If there is one thing I don’t want my friends see me doing, it’s sweating through an ill-fitting t-shirt looking completely miserable on an elliptical.
To avoid this indecency, I jog on and off about five miles each night, from my building to the State House and back, down a well-lit street (I prefer the Commonwealth Avenue mall because there are Christmas lights the trees for a large part of the year). This way, if I feel lazy and want to take the T back halfway, I can do so without feeling guilty, even though this probably explains why my body is morphing into a giant marshmallow.
As I make my 21-year-old debut here in Boston, I don’t foresee myself pouring alcohol down my throat six nights a week in Allston, which I probably would have done freshman year if I could. I wouldn’t call it tired, and I’m definitely not depressed (although my hangover might be kicking in), but I have a more mature view of social life now that I’m a senior, something that is most fun when experienced in moderation.
Sophomore year, our class read Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “Reveries of a Solitary Walker,” which is obviously the title of today’s column. It’s pretty boring, so I’d advise against reading it.
Sydney Shea is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com.