Loneliness – that painful feeling of isolation from others – is familiar to most students. It takes different forms in different people. Some feel lonely when they are excluded by an individual or a group (social loneliness); other people feel lonely when they have no one to talk to about their deepest concerns, or with whom to build a close personal relationship (emotional loneliness).
Loneliness is different from solitude: we choose solitude for an opportunity to be still or to reflect on our lives.
Being alone doesn’t automatically mean loneliness – many people enjoy it. We experience loneliness as an involuntary lack of connectedness to others. And you can feel lonely in a group or a crowd. You can also feel lonely with a partner, best friend, or family member.
- Separation from family and friends
- New and unfamiliar surroundings
- The break-up of a relationship
- Fear of rejection or repeated relationship disappointments
- Absence of people who understand you, your interests or experiences
- Poorer academic performance resulting from decreased self-confidence
- The (false) assumption that others are evaluating you negatively
- Unrealistic expectations, like thinking everyone should like or include you
- Difficulty introducing yourself, making phone calls, or participating in group activities
- Dependence on others to build your self-esteem and initiate activities
- The possibility of becoming more isolated, withdrawn, angry, unhappy
Become an observer
Notice when loneliness hits you (what times of day; holidays, anniversaries, birthdays) and plan to be busy during these times.Watch for behavior that perpetuates your loneliness, and ways you put up barriers to others.
Find ways to connect
If you are lonely, do something about it:
- Do not become a hermit: find situations that allow you to be involved with others
- Introduce yourself and say hello
- Have a short conversation with someone sitting next to you. Ask someone in your class to be your study partner
- Don’t wait for others to call you – contact a friend and invite him or her to do something
- Attend social events
- Go to relaxed student hangouts (places like coffee houses)
- Pursue activities you enjoy so you’ll meet people with the same interests
- Don’t take a rejection personally
- Don’t be too quick to judge others - give them a chance
- Expect others to be different from you; be respectful of those differences
- Be a friend first; the best soulmates are based on friendship
- Don’t get stuck in loneliness – it can lead to overeating, sleeping too much, numbing yourself with alcohol or other drugs, and depression