What Loneliness Taught Me As An Extrovert

College can be lonely at times. This is a reality that not many people talk about and it is easy to forget when social media feeds are filled with photos of the last social event and groups of friends smiling. While college is a beautiful time of developing friendships with people, some of which will last the rest of your life, deepening those friendships take time and finding “your people” at college can be a process. Everyone at some point in their four years at college experiences loneliness, but for people like me who are extroverts, these points can be especially challenging. 

My sophomore year has had its fair share of periods of loneliness. I started the year unsure of what “group” I belonged to after deciding over the summer to quit the lacrosse team. I also wasn’t living in the same dorm as the friends I had made freshman year when we had all lived in all-female housing. I felt cut-off and distant from the group of friends I thought I had, and while we were all still friends, we all began to go in different directions as we settled in more to our places at Kenyon. I, however, also didn’t feel like I knew what my place at Kenyon was. During the midst of all this, I went through a devastating break-up that caused me to isolate myself for a period of time. 

Girl lying on bed aloneI began to spend a lot of time alone, which is something I am uncomfortable with as an extrovert. Loneliness began to set in and I didn’t know how to navigate it as someone who gets their energy from other people. Something that helped me begin to navigate this was a reframing in my mind of what “being alone” meant. I had to begin the process of separating feeling loneliness from the physical situation of being by myself. Being by myself became an opportunity to more fully know myself and spend time with myself the way that I wanted to know and spend time with others. I had to start treating myself as my own friend. I realized that I was feeling lonely because I hadn’t become friends with myself. 

My season of loneliness began to teach me a lot not just about myself, but also about what true friendship is––and it isn’t always about being surrounded by people. After walking through loneliness, I now more fully appreciate the deep connections that I have with a couple of close friends. I also thought that as an extrovert I had to rely and be dependent on others for my “energy”––but I became more acquainted with my own energy during my experience with loneliness. It is an energy that comes from the things that make me who I am––my faith, my beliefs, my aspirations, the ways that I think about myself. Loneliness helped me to more fully know myself and therefore help me to be more fully myself in my friendships. I am more confident in who I am and my ability to spend time alone. As an extrovert, I no longer view loneliness as a hindrance to my growth but as a catalyst for a deeper understanding of who I am and where I am going as an individual. 

Girl jumping with red heart balloon