The first few months living in a Los Angeles share house with twenty-four people was a blessing and a curse. The plus side was that there was always someone around to vent your frustrations to, ask for support, or even collaborate with on projects (shout out to Upstart Creative Living).
I was quickly taken out of my comfort zone and thrown into a pool of extroverts with big egos who had even bigger hearts.
However, as time went on I needed space, and that seemed to be the hardest thing to find since I was sharing a room with six other girls. At first, it was all fun and games, kind of like those first few days of school camp where you bond over meaningless similarities like owning the same duvet or pillow slip. But having deep conversations, with what felt like a hundred people walking in and out of the front door each day, was difficult to maintain for this introvert.
Often I found myself taking extra long showers just to get a little bit more peace and quiet without questions being asked as to where I was. But still, I began to feel guilty about my need for an escape, as everyone else seemed okay with staying up late engaging with one another in the courtyard, smoking joints, and talking about the time they witnessed an extraterrestrial phenomenon in Joshua Tree whilst on shrooms.
As months went on I got tired of having to feel the need to hide away in my bunk bed or say I had to work late in order to avoid the Friday night dance party in the living room. I began to feel as though I was letting down these new friendships by constantly saying “no” to anything that involved engaging with someone for longer than two minutes. To me, a "hey, how ya going" or "have a good day" before leaving to go to work seemed like enough socialising altogether.
Deep down though I knew that if I were to say “yes” to such activities with the hope of not letting others down, I’d be the one crashing and burning.
In order to get the space I needed, I would organise solo activities that weren’t stressful, such as seeing a movie, grocery shopping, sightseeing, or reading a book in a park. These small activities (which may seem very dull to some) provided me with an escape, it got me out of the house and allowed me to keep my brain stimulated by exploring a new city, all whilst not feeling socially overloaded whilst being around others at home.
By doing these independent activities I felt as though I had more energy to focus on others when I was ready to socialise again. On weekends I was more than happy to hang out or grab a drink with my twenty-four roommates, or even bust a move during those weekly dance parties. I loved those moments. When I felt re-energised mentally, no longer did it seem like a burden to engage in group activities.
Often it can be difficult to cope with these new situations within foreign cities or housing situations, but always remember to embrace your escape. Yes, it’s always great to make an effort with others and socialise but understand when to say “no”. Don’t feel guilty when you need to take some "me" time and do what helps you to re-energise. By doing so you’ll ultimately acclimatise to these new and exciting moments in your life.
List of very chill solo activities when you're in need of an escape: