09 March 2021

The Art of Being Alone

Written by: Sydnee Martin

As I near the end of my six-month RA program, I feel as though I've noticed the hints of loneliness starting to creep in.

It seems odd that it's settled in so close to the end and has become a lot more noticeable, but it's the prospect of potentially having the opportunity to stay out here longer and away from friends and family, who are on the east coast, that’s making this prospect that much more nerve-racking.

That's not to say that I don't enjoy the quiet, beautiful landscape of the area I'm residing in but living so far away from home and all in a global pandemic has started to take its toll. I'm very fortunate to have extended family residing out here about two hours away, but trying to stay safe and healthy not only for myself but for them as well is constantly at the back of my brain. Thankfully in February, I was lucky to spend two weekends with my family who lives out here, and taking a drive up to the area near Phoenix, and we even went as far as exploring Sedona, a place with scenic views and a drive up through the desert mountains.

However, despite the distance and experiencing this loneliness, I've noticed a huge amount of growth within myself. My communication skills, while could still use a lot of work, have grown exponentially, and being someone who can be very indecisive, I've learned to really become a bit more mature in my decision-making. Every day I learn that it's okay to experience the emotions I may be experiencing because it's totally normal, but that the main issue is how I handle those emotions and what I do with them moving forward.

Loneliness can be debilitating and almost crippling to the point that you don’t want to do anything but lay in bed. Yet, I give myself time to do just that. Whether it’s binge-watching a show, doing some form of exercise, or reading a book, I give myself to do the things I enjoy in the comfort of my home for just a moment before continuing with the outside world. After a couple of days, I find myself eventually getting back to some semblance of normalcy and I pick back up where I’ve left off. 

Not only do hobbies such as these really help me to combat the experiences of being alone, but never have I ever been more grateful for technology than right now when I’m across the country. Almost every day or every other day, I am FaceTiming family and friends, and while it’s not necessarily the same as hanging out with someone in person, it still brings a sense of warmth and joy at the fact that I still have those who care for me no matter the distance, and it instantly makes my day feel better, or even seeing photos and videos of my five-month-old niece has truly managed to turn my day right side up.

Many RAs within this program have moved far and wide to do this internship, and it’s not easy. It may be an experience we’re grateful to have, especially to enhance our skills and go towards our next career goals but having to move far away from family and not have much of an opportunity to meet new people can be a challenge. Our society hasn’t necessarily taught us how to “be alone”, like truly alone and doing things by ourselves, and there’s nothing at all wrong with exploring alone, but for some, after a while, it can become repetitive and hard to deal with. Finding time to really sit with yourself and to feel what you’re feeling is necessary, rather than completely ignoring what’s happening before your eyes. Find the simple things that bring you joy, even if it consists of walking around the entirety of your complex building or having a dance party in your room, because the feeling, while it’s in the now, is oftentimes temporary, and we can pick back up from where we started slowly.

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: Coronado National Forest

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