Imagine being a freshman in college. You’ve been settled in for about a week now in your dorm. Your roommate seems like a good kid but your personalities and interests are different so you don’t see each other as more than just roommates. You’re surrounded by other peers in your housing complex, in the cafeteria and on campus. Going to the cafeteria is the worst especially if the individual booths or window seats are taken, so you have no choice but to scan the cafeteria for a table with the least number of people or a group of people that are…tolerable based on their appearance and demeanor. You approach the table and ask if you can sit at their table. When they acknowledge your presence you then sit down, introduce yourself, then eat your meal without saying much to the group you’re eating with. You then finish your meal, nonchalantly say goodbye and take your tray to the return station. Awkward, right?
Loneliness is not necessarily about being alone. Instead, it is the perception of being alone and isolated that matters most. As a college student, you’re surrounded by your roommates or your peers or even the people you sit with, but if there is no interaction there then you can still feel alone. Loneliness can sometimes be caused by being physically isolated (I’m sure Yoda was lonely when he was in exile in Dagobah), divorce, constantly moving places (if your parents are in the military you might understand this) or even a symptom of a mental illness such as depression. Having low self-esteem can also be a reason for loneliness for some people because they often feel they aren’t worthy of attention. This can lead to them hiding in their shell and being alone.
Break Out the Carpet Squares It’s Story Time!
When I transferred to Mount St Mary’s, I knew very well that I would had to start over socially. It also doesn’t help that I’m a commuter so I pretty much at my house on the weekends with the exception of me driving to my university’s athletic university (aka The ARCC), to work out. I feel like I’ve gotten to that point where I know the names and faces of people in my classes that I talk to but I don’t consider them friends, just classmates. It’s not that I didn’t want to be friends. I just don’t know how to make friends with people outside of a classroom setting. My best bet is to join some extra-curricular activity of some sort but I’m too busy to do anything aside from sleep, school and eating. Being half-way into the semester, I feel lonely at my new school, but also I feel like it’s my fault. Sometimes loneliness isn’t caused by forces out of our control. I ponder at night: maybe I just have poor time management and I do have time to make new friends or maybe I just have poor social skills and I just don’t have the guts to talk to reach out to people. What’s the point in getting a college education if I can’t also have the friends to join me in my journey?
Do what you enjoy and look for others to enjoy it with. For me I enjoy playing soccer, I plan on joining an intramural soccer team (the next challenge is finding a team to join) in the next week or so. I can guarantee you that there are people out there fighting the same battle as you are. There are people out there that think about you, even care about you.
You. Are. Not. Alone.