Why You Should Be Your Own Best Friend in a New City

Posted on Monday, Oct 17, 2016

Okay so that sounds a little harsh. Of course you should make the most of your intern cohort and work on building those relationships at the office! Human interaction in some form or another is essential to mental health and happiness. If you don’t believe me, please google the famous psychology case study on Genie and report back. As complex social creatures we need to connect with, laugh with, argue with, and spend time with other people; that being said, there’s a palpable pressure to quickly forge relationships with others in your intern group. This pressure can be felt when you realize that other people have already spent time together and are becoming fast friends. It’s easy to feel excluded by this and motivated to immediately find those friends to explore D.C. with. For the most part, you should definitely find a friend or friends in the group that you can share your experience with, whether it’s bonding over the struggles of being an intern or planning activities in the city for the weekends.
However, there’s a downside to being surrounded by people non-stop and if you are a prospective PPIP/ANRP intern you will definitely understand what I’m talking about! You share a room, possibly a closet, a toilet, a shower, metro rides to work, an office, and most likely 3 meals a day with other people. Ever heard the saying “too much of a good thing”? At the end of the day, you are definitely going to want some time to yourself that you may or may not end up getting. That’s where these great little nuggets of wisdom can come in handy! Here are a few reasons why it’s so important to forge a friendship with yourself during this experience and a few ways that you can start the process:

1. If you've never made friends with the face in the mirror, now is a great time

Before now, you were at A&M with other people like you. People who want to have careers, people who want to be successful, people who went to A&M for similar reasons that you did. College is a great time to find friends and find career paths (eventually), but a lot of students graduate without truly knowing what kind of people they are. Nothing will show you your true colors more than traveling. You will find out right off the bat if you are a homebody or an adventurer, if you can eat at a restaurant alone, or if you need to be in a group, if you are someone who calls their loved ones every day or someone who calls when they can. If you’ve never thought about these things before, that’s great! It means you’re going to learn so much about yourself when you take the plunge and decide to intern away from home. If you do know what kind of person you are, then you’ll still gain lots of exposure to new challenges that make you question your values and characteristics (trust me- I’m one of you!). At some point in life, you’ll need to know who you are, and that starts by getting comfortable being alone and there’s no better time to start!

2. At the end of the day, it's just your, youself, and you

When all is said and done, this is YOUR experience. You took the time out of your life to come here, you delayed graduation or took a gap year for this internship, and you are the only one who is going to benefit from it in the end. It’s easy to get sucked into what the group is doing (maybe they like to stay out all night and experience the nightlife, but you’re more comfortable being in bed by midnight). In the end, you need to make this experience EXACTLY what you want it to be, because when you look back at it you don’t want to have any regrets. You took the time to be here, so make it count! Be honest with yourself about what you want to gain from this experience and push yourself to make it happen.

3. The quickest way to gain confidence is by doing things you didn't believe you could

Often times, instead of being our own best friends, we’re our own worst enemies, especially when we’re growing up. If you happen to identify as a female, then you definitely know what I’m talking about. The truth is, we all doubt ourselves, we think we can’t get the job because we aren’t qualified enough, and we think that if we really put ourselves out there, we’ll fail, or worse: be rejected. The best way to turn this around? Ride the metro by yourself to work the first day. There is nothing more intimidating than going to a new office full of people you’ve never met before, in an unfamiliar city, using public transportation that is unreliable at best, for the very first time. What’s worse than that? Doing it all alone. Maybe riding the metro alone isn’t what makes your palms sweat, but that was definitely a fear of mine before moving to D.C. The best way to make the most out of your experience in a new place, to get to know yourself a little better, and to turn that self-doubt spiral around is to face those fears! Even after hours and hours of metro riding under my belt, I still feel a little smug each time I sit alone on the train. It feels good to relish the moments that you achieved a feat, even if it was completely trivial in the eyes of others. By forcing yourself out of your comfort zone, you’re building a relationship with yourself and setting yourself on a path to being a more confident, mature adult. And that’s one of the goals of this experience, right?

Emily Bennett
Ducks Unlimited
Washington, D.C.‚Äč