Navigating Loneliness During the First Few Weeks of College

When I arrived on campus nearly two weeks ago, I had no idea what to expect. I picked up my room key, plastered a smile on my face, and tried to be as friendly as possible to everyone I met. Everything was unfamiliar: the people in my orientation group, my hallmates, the communal bathrooms. Orientation was an exhausting, but exciting, whirlwind. I had to learn about fifty new names each day and made a slew of potential friends. At the end of each day, I’d collapse onto my bed, sleep for five hours, and get up to do it all again the next day.

However, when I started my classes, and my new friends started theirs, our schedules didn’t always line up. I’d walk to the dining hall alone, go to the C Store to buy snacks alone, and spend time unpacking my room alone. While these were all things I knew I had to do, these moments alone felt both blissful and incredibly lonely. When I turned down a few parties and found myself wanting to go to bed earlier, only to hear people in the room across from me talking and having a fun time, I couldn’t help but think: am I doing college right? Doing things alone felt lonely, it’s true, but also like something I needed. These past two weeks, I’ve been more social than ever before. Everyone needs time to recover, right?

 

 

I knew I couldn’t be the only one feeling caught between being overly social and being lonely, so I decided to talk to some of my new friends about it. I found that they all felt the same, and talking about how we all felt this way brought us closer together. What I think it comes down to is that, in our moments of alone time, we see groups of people hanging out and think “Wow they’re so social and well adapted, they must never feel lonely.” That just simply isn’t true. 

As I approach the end of my second week here at Brandeis, I still haven’t been able to completely silence the little voice in my head telling me I’m not doing enough. But I have come to a key realization: we can’t compare our college experiences. It’s easy to assume that you’re the only person feeling lonely because nobody walks around with a giant sign over their heading reading “LONELY.” We all have moments where we wonder if we’re social enough, studious enough, or happy enough. In the end, we’re all trying our best to navigate this completely new place and make the best out of our experience here. There’s no “right” way to do college; there’s only the way that you end up doing it.