Don’t be afraid to change


Daily Illini File Photo

The Main Quad is just one of three on campus. The grassy space is perfect for going with friends to play frisbee or dog watch.

By Shankari Sureshbabu, Columnist

sureshbabushankariWhen I arrived at the University as an eager-eyed freshman, my biggest fear was being alone.

I had just moved to a whole new place all by myself. What if 18 years of socializing had steered me wrong, and people actually didn’t like my dumb jokes and overly optimistic personality? Luckily, my nightmares were shattered. Somewhere between singing Bohemian Rhapsody and writing lab reports in the UGL, I found family in my new home. Group chats were lit, my fear of not belonging was squashed and life was good.

This year, I wasn’t so lucky. We became busy and couldn’t find the time to hang out like we used to. Suddenly, surrounded by 40,000 students, the feeling of being alone crept in. I sunk into a rhythm of work, work, work (Rihanna’s favorite rhythm). I was a wonderful mixture of bored, unsatisfied, and lonely. This sudden sadness left by the void of my friend group was made worse by the onset of fall, seasons 4 and 5 of “How I Met Your Mother” and constant feelings of nostalgia. 

Moving to college, I had a lot of dreams for what I wanted. One girl’s essay in particular stood out to me as remarkably spot-on. It was called “The Opposite of Loneliness” by Marina Keegan. She worked at her college newspaper, the Yale Daily News. 

In her essay, Keegan describes what I and many students (I’m sure) crave to find when they come to college: “We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life … It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team.”

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This was what I thought I had, but realized that I had taken it mostly for granted. My friendships became an expectation rather than a privilege. When they seemed to be fading away, like a toddler who just had it’s toy taken away, I was overcome with emotion.

Okay, not that much emotion. But some.

The truth is, this wasn’t a fear of being alone, but fearing growth and change. I still have wonderful friends. Sure, things are different, but ignoring the positives in the life I have now is foolish.

There will be days, maybe weeks, when you feel alone. It’s okay. Things will change for the better. It’s normal to miss a time when everything was flowing smoothly. But resisting the course that life takes, whether you tumble down a rough road or a smoother one, can cause you to not appreciate what you have in the present. 

You can try to fill your life with new people, fun activities and delicious food (truly the best solution), but being alone is a simple pleasure that many take for granted until you’re surrounded by nosy friends who won’t leave you alone.

Change, and especially change you don’t like, can be a hard transition. However, change is an inevitable part of life, and moving on is pretty much the only next step (unless you want to lock yourself in your room and cry forever). But fret not, the constant winding road of life will eventually lead to someplace wonderful.

Shankari is a sophomore in LAS. 

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