Loneliness in A New Land and How I Coloured it with My Happy Objects

Today I want to talk about a topic that I believe almost everybody faces at some stage of their lives. To adapt to life in a new place might take longer than you might assume. And if you are an international student in a new country, that surely has its own challenges as well as advantages. One year already passed, you think you made many new friends, life is steadily moving forward with all the usual concerns of daily life. But then you see that this year is nothing like the previous one. Things have changed. Your gang is not around anymore. You are in the constant flow of meeting new people again as another year advances.

Time goes by. You witness that the course of life is changing. One semester you simply don’t have a minute to call your own and you dream of the less frantic, more free days, days off. The next semester, there you have it, arguably more time to declare your own, but this time you face a new phase of life. Yes, you never know what life throws at you next. You dreamt of more time but more time came with its own price. Now you have so many days off that you sometimes don’t know what to do with them. And boom! A feeling wraps you around that you weren’t that all familiar with before. Nostalgia, remembering sweet past events and the last stop is “loneliness.”

As I shared a room and house with friends and family in the past school years, this feeling is not what I’m accustomed to. As a person coming from a culture which is family/society oriented, one can understand that it is different from growing up in a country which promotes individuality more. Because if they were not filled with studies and assignments, small breaks that I took during the day would be filled with spending time with my family members or friends either by sharing coffee/tea or meals. But now that I have “a room of my own” as Virginia Woolf suggests, and as everybody has a pile of things to do, I can’t enjoy that free time with friends as “being busy all the time” is a norm of our time now.

So, I came to terms with loneliness. At this particular stage of this feeling, identify where it stems from so that it would be easier to come up with an alternative to make up for it. For me, missing home and things that I associate with home made me feel nostalgic and at times lonely. Yes, anybody can feel lonely sometimes, but you can guess that if it prolongs, it does no good in the long run.

So, my suggestion is to find what Sarah Ahmed calls “happy objects.” As she says “...happiness functions as a promise that directs us toward certain objects...” (Ahmed 2010:29) I found out that my happy objects were a cup of Turkish coffee and if I have it, a piece of soft Turkish delight which can be substituted with chocolate. Because they are always shared with someone dear and they evoke happiness, sadness, news, joy and sorrows, to put it simply, life itself. And use watercolour to lighten up your surroundings, paint what you wish and hang it on your wall. And simply accept that being lonely sometimes is as necessary as being surrounded by people. That way, you get to know yourself better, you discover other facets of yourself. You even enjoy loneliness which becomes solitude as it’s something positive now. Accept it, own it and you will see that you will be your best companion ever, even beat the dulling darkness with this new state of mind. In the end, we all know that “happiness is a state of mind.”