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Experiences

How I Dealt With Feeling Alone In College

Anyone who tells you that college is going to be 100% amazing from move-in day up until summer is lying. College, regardless of where you go to school, is nothing more than an opportunity––unless you are at a school that fits you poorly, it should be an overall fun and important time that nurtures your growth into adulthood. I heard a lot about what college was going to be from the people around me before I actually started attending Emerson. I heard mixed reviews about workload, residence halls and bad dining hall food-however, I never expected to feel remotely lonely.

 My parents, who met at Wesleyan University, loved college and frequently refer to their college days as the best years of their lives. People who I asked about school told me after the first week, everything would fall into place and I would find my best friends. I looked forward to college for all four years of high school, and finally, August 24th came––move in day. Moving in and saying goodbye wasn’t hard for me, but when my parents left, I was confronted with the strange feeling of being completely alone in the middle of somewhere new, where I don’t know anyone. It was overwhelming.

At first, everyone is going to be really friendly. Anyone who isn’t friendly is either shy or an asshole, and in my experience most people were neither. I met groups upon groups of people; everyone was really nice and cool and I had some of the most fun nights of my life during orientation week! I was so relieved––I had beat the loneliness I had feared! I was surrounded by people and it was great, until it wasn’t.

First week relationships fall apart, but so do first-month-of-college friendships. People who I had bonded with, simply because we lived close or because we weren’t white, started to become distant from me in a way that was natural and upsetting all at once. We didn’t actually have anything in common––a fact that could no longer be ignored––and as a result relationships shifted quickly. I made and lost more friends in these past two months than I ever have in my life, which was overwhelming. Now, two months in I feel profoundly lonely.

It is strange to be lonely even while surrounded by people. What college taught me so far, however, is that a part of growing up is understanding the value of being alone. I had to accept that I would be okay, even if I didn’t make friends, before I could bring value into potential new friendships. I had to realize that my friendships at college could be fulfilling in new and different ways-life is different now, and it is okay.

Now, a few weeks later, I feel less lonely. I have friends here who I love, and some who I am still getting to know. The biggest way to avoid feeling lonely in college is to look at your loneliness with purpose. Loneliness is lonely, but solitude does not have to be. I had to realize that I was good company, which completely changed my view on college and made me feel genuinely better about the friendships I was forming.

 

Zoe Rivera

Emerson '23

Hi! I'm a freshman contributor at Emerson College
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