How to Deal with Loneliness in College

The fact that you’re not alone in feeling lonely while at college makes it a little easier, right? Nonetheless, it isn’t fun, so I want to share with you a few tips that have been helpful to me through this process (by that, I mean college-ing).

Photo from favim.com

Let’s backtrack a little and simply talk about why being in college is really hard. It’s because college means change, and that is inherently daunting. I find it difficult dealing with a new haircut, let alone a new environment and routine.

Change is especially difficult when thousands of people around you are going through that same transition. In college, we’re all trying to balance difficult workloads while making friends and keeping up an appearance. The fact that we’re all in this together should make it easier, but sometimes that’s not the case.

Let’s relate it to that haircut I mentioned earlier. My friend and I both just got one. I went blonde, she got bangs, there are big changes happening. You’d think we’d be able to help each other appreciate our new hair, right? But what if it’s not that easy?

Maybe your friend is loving her bangs, and you’re looking at your new color kind of hating it. Maybe all of her friends are complimenting her on her new do, and you’re sitting there with lots of regrets. You can’t help comparing yourself -- wanting nothing more than to be as happy as her. You’re left feeling isolated, frustrated, and upset.

I think it can be the same for some in college.

In an age where you can see everything that everyone’s doing online, it’s impossible not to compare your experiences to everyone else’s. It’s easy to think that what you’re doing isn’t perfect, that you’re not making friends quickly enough, or not going to the right parties when it seems as though everyone around you is doing the complete opposite. Because if you scroll through your Instagram feed, you’ll see countless pictures of girls and guys smiling with their new friends in really cool places, perfectly happy.

Photo from thoughtcatalog.com

So how do you deal with the inevitable self-doubt and loneliness that comes with that? Here are a couple of my tips.

Understand that what you see and hear about other people isn’t always the case.

Everybody in college, no matter how confident they seem, is confused, maybe homesick, and just generally questioning what they’re doing. What you see on Instagram is only the good stuff, which is okay! But it’s helpful to know that even if you think that everyone around you has it all under control, they don’t.

The most important thing to remember is to be patient.

The day before I left for college, I sat in a field by my house and wrote out a list of intentions I had for the school year. It may have been a little extra, sitting in some grass and jotting stuff in a journal, but what I came up with has been really helpful. The last thing on my list reads, “Be patient: patient with yourself, with your relationships, with your classes and your experiences. Be patient and know that good things come to those who wait.”

This idea is one that’s kind of thrown out the window when you first come to college. People start communicating with others through Facebook and Instagram DMs before the school year even starts. It’s like you have to have a group of friends in college even before you get there. 

My approach is a little different and it’s left me feeling a lot happier.

Instead of feeling the need to be constantly mingling with other people, collecting everyone’s phone numbers and Snapchats, let’s take a step back and relax a little.

Instead of feeling bad for going to bed early on a Saturday night, when you could have been going out and meeting new people, realize that it’s okay to spend a little bit of time alone.

Photo from magicforwalls.com

Now, this doesn’t mean to sit passively back and wait for friends to fall into your lap: that’d be too easy. The point is, I want you to feel good going to bed at night, even if that day you weren’t progressing towards the “ideal college self.” Let’s just be okay with who we are and where we are right in this moment.

These things take time, don’t forget that. You will find your people, whether that happens tomorrow or a year from now.

 

And even though I don’t know you, I know that you deserve happiness, no matter how many friends you’ve made or parties you’ve gone to in the past week. Keep doing what you’re doing, and everything will fall into place. You, my friend, are doing just fine.