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Alone or Lonely?



By Willa Cuthrell-Tuttleman

It’s Thursday afternoon and I’m sitting on the steps across from Milbank. It’s sunny but chilly outside, and I’m sipping a hot coffee. There are students around me; some of them are talking in groups, some in pairs. Another girl, alone, like me, is sitting on the step above me, eating an orange and looking at her phone.

Before I entered college, people told me that I was going to have some of the best years of my life here. An important part of that experience, they said, was the lifelong connections and friendships that I would make, the late nights, the wine parties.

I kept this in mind all throughout last year, especially during NSOP, when new students were scrambling to make as many friends and meet as many people as possible. People went from being best friends during NSOP to acquaintances when classes began. I think about several people who I’d become “best friends” with within the first couple days of orientation, and how quickly they fizzled out and amounted to, at most, a smile when passing each other on the way to class.

Last year, socialization was important to me. I hated being alone, so I filled my schedule with lunch dates, outings, movies, etc. I made plans like crazy. But I felt on a deeper level that these social interactions, at least in the first month of college, were superficial. But I was happy, because at least I wasn’t ever alone.

Because all the freshmen lived in close-quarters and had similar eagerness to “get involved” in the social scene, clubs, organizations, etc., being constantly social was easy, and it was something that I got used to.

I’m a sophomore now, living in Plimpton. No more communal bathrooms or kitchens, no more walking out into halls of people heading to the shower in a bathrobe. Often, I’m in my room. I don’t like going out as much; things are too far away. Introducing myself to new people is harder now, since I’m not new to the school anymore, and I don’t technically have an incentive to branch out. Yet, at the same time, I am a bit lonely; looking at what everyone is doing on social media is disheartening. It’s easy for me to feel isolated, or to feel as if I’m not doing anything, as if I’m wasting my college experience, and I’m feeling more and more these days like a loner. For a while, this was very difficult for me– at times, it still is– but I’ve learned that being alone isn’t always a bad thing.

When I was hyper-social last year, I felt good about having a full schedule, a rich social life, a group text, etc. However, I often felt compelled to keep up relationships and people that didn’t make me feel good. I felt anxious all the time, desperate to be liked, wondering why someone didn’t answer a text that I’d sent a day ago. The worry that came with all of these things was exhausting. While I still experience these feelings, I’ve found that taking time for myself has been helpful. Being alone on my own volition took mountains of social pressure off – I’m beginning to enjoy walking by myself, studying by myself, having dinner by myself, without worrying about what I’m supposed to be doing, such as having dinner with five friends every night. This semester, I’ve learned the value of having just a few really great individual friendships; I’ve learned the relief of not having to belong to a group, and most importantly, I’ve learned to love alone time.
That’s not to say that I still don’t sometimes experience episodes of loneliness on campus, FOMO, sneaking suspicions that that one friend doesn’t actually like me that much, the feeling that I’d made someone mad, etc. I still experience these things, which I think, I hope, is part of the larger experience of existing as a social being, but something that I ultimately learned this semester is finding value, enjoyment, and serenity in being alone, and that being alone shouldn’t and doesn’t necessarily equate to being unhappy.

A Thanksgiving Drinking Game


by Sinead Hunt

Thanksgiving can be a stressful time for many of us. Family pressures combined with the knowledge that what we’re celebrating is predicated on the subjugation of native peoples create a torrent of emotions. Luckily, there’s nothing that brings the whole family together like the shared joy of alcohol! With that in mind, Barnard Bite is here to the rescue with a drinking game that’s fun for the whole family!

Here are the RULES:

-A shot for every class you were forced to attend the Wednesday before break

-Drink: Every time a relative asks you, “Wait, what did you say your major was again?”

(BONUS ROUND: Extra shot if they then proceed to ask you, “What do you plan on doing with that?”)

-Drink: Every time a well-meaning relative brings up Donald Trump

BONUS ROUND: Shot for every time a relative says, “Well, he doesn’t really mean that…”

-Two shots for every time a relative says, “It’s not that I’m racist, but I really think that Trump just has a better plan for the economy. He is a businessman after all.”

Finish the whole damn bottle: A relative quips, “But at least it’s better than having a criminal for president…”

-Drink: when you lose track of how many slices of pumpkin pie you have consumed

-Drink: if your drunken relatives attempt to play football in the yard, despite their inebriated state

-Take a shot for every time an aunt asks you about your love life

Finish the whole damn bottle: if she then proceeds to insinuate that every student at a women’s college is a lesbian

-Three shots to forget all the homework you are ignoring over the weekend

Finish the whole damn bottle: if your relative mispronounces it as “Barnyard,” instead of “Barnard.”

-Barnard Bite encourages you to consume alcohol responsibly and does not advocate for the irresponsible use of alcohol. This post is meant as a joke-

Sinead Hunt is  a first-year at Barnard and Liaison for Barnard Bite.

A Thanksgiving Lesson

by Molly Scott

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” -Marcel Proust

A little over a year ago, Hurricane Sandy hit my hometown in New Jersey. The storm had a fairly big impact on my family, but luckily, we were not totally devastated as many of our friends and neighbors were. I can remember the morning after the storm hit, my mother calling me and telling me the damage that had been done and that my car had been completely destroyed by the flood waters. It had been my great-grandparent’s car that they used during their last years of life. Memories of driving my friends to high school every morning, to my field hockey games, and even to the SATs suddenly flooded my mind. At the time though, I remember only feeling grateful that my family was safe and sound, not a sense of grief over the car.

Weeks passed and suddenly Thanksgiving was upon us. The days preceding the holiday were filled with family members sorting through belongings that held precious memories that were either destroyed by the water or had just barely survived. Thanksgiving evening in our house was somber and tense; it seemed as if we could speak of nothing but the storm. We would continually acknowledge, though, how lucky we were out considering the loss many others had experienced. Things got better and better as the weeks and months progressed, as did our family’s mood.

Over the course of the past year, I have learned many lessons and have grown significantly as a person. Watching the people of my town come together throughout the year has been incredible to watch and restores my faith in the ability for humans to be selfless when times call for it. Although it may sound cliché, the most important lesson I have learned from this storm is that we must be grateful for the people in our lives. They are the ones who love us, who get us through the hard times, and are really all we have in life. I know that this Thanksgiving will be much more joyous in our house than last year’s and that we will undoubtedly acknowledge the love we have for one another.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

The staff of The Nine Ways of Knowing would like to wish everyone and their families a happy, healthy Thanksgiving and safe travels home.

Molly Scott is a junior at Barnard and Senior Editor of The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of Molly Scott.

Dear Diana: Lonely and Not a First-Year

Dear Diana,

I took a semester off the Fall before last and returned last Spring. I have never gotten back into my rhythm and feel disconnected from my old friends and am having trouble making new ones. it doesn’t help that I’m terribly shy–most of my friends I made at NSOP… and they came to me. Do you have any ideas or suggestions for enriching my social life?

Lonely and Not a First-Year

Dear Lonely,

I know it can feel a lot like you’re alone here at Barnard, but you’re probably less disconnected than you think. Barnard has a very interesting way of making people feel a bit isolated from each other, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we’re taught to be independent here in a way that is very different from other colleges. It’s completely normal here to eat alone at the Diana and you don’t see girls traveling in packs from class to class. While this can be a really good thing, it also means that it’s harder for students to feel connected when they need to be. (And trust me, you’re not the only one having this trouble.) I’d say step one would be to try your best to rekindle old friendships. Instead of going out with a group of friends, try going out one-on-one. That way you can really have conversations, be filled in on what you missed, and you won’t be surrounded by girls retelling inside jokes and old stories, like “hey, remember that time at Canon’s…” or “remember when we never did our homework…” which can be overwhelming and kind of disheartening to hear. Keep in mind though, while it’s great to share stories about your time abroad, don’t get caught up in it! Listen too, find out what been going on on campus and in your circle of friends. You have missed things, but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch up!

Step two, reach out to new people! And you know what they say, nothing brings two people together like a common enemy. Be it your upcoming economics exam or a particularly brutal professor, nothing unites Barnard girls like homework. Don’t be afraid to approach a few girls in your class, offer to organize a study group or edit each others’ papers. Even if you don’t exactly work “together” you can still study in the same place. That way, if you stumble across something in a reading you that you don’t understand, you’ll have someone to talk it through with. And when you decide to take a study break and watch like a million youtube videos in a row, you’ll discover you have more in common than an annoying problem set.

I know it can be hard at first to reach out to people, especially if you’re just naturally shy, so let me end by arming you with something solid: You’re not the only one! I can guarantee you almost every student at Barnard has felt the way you feel at some point in her time here, it’s just a natural part of the atmosphere of the college and the city itself. So when you reach out to someone, chances are she’ll understand where you’re coming from and be open to making a new friend, too! Keep this in mind, and take a chance! What’s the worst that can happen?

Good luck Lonely, you’ll be great!


Have a question for Dear Diana? Click Here.

Image courtesy of Live Action Blog.

How to Give Great Gifts

by Samantha Plotner

Your best friend could smell
like Beyoncé… Think about it.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” The holiday season is officially here, which means between papers and exams you also need to think about who you will be getting gifts for this year. Think about what the people on your list like−everything from a favorite brand to the TV show they’re obsessed with. Or, play on inside jokes. You can find something that relates to almost anything somewhere in the city, or on the Internet.

Puzzled? It’s hard to go wrong if you get someone something that they want but would never buy for themselves. Another variation is buying them a fancier version of something they use regularly. Does your mom burn through candles? Buy her an extra nice one. Your best friend an aspiring bartender? Get her a quality cocktail shaker. Also in this category are simple extravagances like cashmere socks or fancy coffee.

Also, remember: when on your gift search pressure can be your worst enemy. Take the time to browse at a few different stores if you can. Sometimes just browsing can lead you to the perfect gift. Also don’t buy into the idea that you need to spend a lot of money to make a good gift. A $15 gift with thought always beats something you bought for $100 in a panic (…maybe not always, but you get the idea).

Where to Look:

Strand: Generally books are a pretty easy gift, and Strand is the place to find them. However it also is a great place to find other small gifts. Check out the section on the first floor behind the stairs that’s full of greeting cards, cute office supplies, and other potential stocking stuffers.

Or maybe you’re shopping
for a Tina Fey fan?

Sephora: When in doubt, spoil people. Makeup can be a hard sell but it can be prove a great gift if you know someone’s taste. But stick to products like eye shadow that aren’t as dependent on skin tone. No one wants foundation that’s the wrong shade. Nice lotion is also a pretty safe bet. Join the rewards program and you could nab a gift for yourself too.

BookMarc: Have a fashion lover on your list? Head down to this fashion bookstore on Bleeker Street that is owned by designer Marc Jacobs. This store is filled with lower cost ($5-$50) items from key chains to bags stamped with the Marc Jacobs logo. Looking for something more high brow? Nearly the entire block is filled with assorted Marc Jacobs boutiques.

NBC Store: If you have a hardcore TV fan on your list this store is a must. This store has merchandise from the whole NBC family of networks which includes NBC, Bravo, and USA.

Henri Bendel: This Fifth Avenue classic is a high end store, but look carefully and you’ll find things within a student budget (such as the $15 travel candles and $30 bangle bracelets). The staff also treats you like royalty and will wrap your gift beautifully, even if all you’re buying is the $15 candle.

Sur La Table or Williams and Sonoma: Either store offers great options for the foodie in your life. Sur La Table also offers a wide assortment of gadgets and tools. Williams and Sonoma offers more high end recipe starters like braising sauces and spices.

Paper Source: This craft store is always an easy place to find the perfect card but it can also prove a place to find quirky small gifts. Superman aprons, “shit list” post it notes, and craft kits are just a few of the things you’ll find.

Samantha Plotner is a senior at Barnard and Senior Editor of The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Hip Hop n More and Just Jared.