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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Loneliness is something we’re all familiar with. It seeps deep into our bones on days we’re most vulnerable, settling in for the night.

We often think of loneliness as something we experience when we’re alone and all our friends have left. It’s not something we associate with being with people. But I think the strongest brand of loneliness is the kind we feel when we’re surrounded by people who barely know our stories.

When I bring up loneliness, most people don’t expect me to speak of a time I was surrounded by people I knew. They expect it to be a time when I was alone in my room, late at night, feeling sorry for myself. Most people find it hard to believe that I could be lonely when there’s a bunch of people around. After all, I could just start talking to one of them; I’m not alone.

But there’s a difference between loneliness and being alone. Loneliness is more than just the absence of people. It’s the absence of belonging. I could be surrounded by a million different people and still feel more alone than ever simply because those people don’t know me. People don’t tend to talk about that type of loneliness.

When I say I am lonely in a crowded room, I don’t mean I am alone. I mean that I am surrounded by people who I feel don’t care about me. I mean I am surrounded by people who won’t bother to address me or ask my name when we have conversations. I mean that I am surrounded by people who don’t care about me, and I can feel it.

I am lonely in a crowded room because these people are strangers.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been to a party and lost all my friends and have felt that dull ache in my chest. The feeling I get late at night when no one’s around and no one’s picking up their phones and I wonder if I’m going to die alone. It latches to me at the moment and it suddenly doesn’t matter that there’s a world full of people to introduce myself to because I just want them to already know me, already want me, already love me and they don’t. Loneliness eats me alive in these moments and I have to go stumbling off to find my friends to make the feeling stop before it consumes me.

Or the times I’m with new friends who I’m not entirely comfortable with and I can see how they all slot into place, but I don’t, and I’m wondering why but I know that if I just give it a few more weeks I’ll fit in fine. I feel the loneliness when they talk over me by accident or when the conversation splits into groups and I’m left there just smiling and nodding, wondering why I can’t join in on the conversation.

In these moments, we are lonely. It doesn’t matter that we’re with people. Loneliness finds us.

In these moments, you too are lonely in a crowded room.

Kathryn Morton

Wilfrid Laurier '24

Kathryn is a third year language student who spent her first year stumbling through Laurier's financial mathematics program before ultimately changing her major. Yes, she's aware those two have no overlap, we don't talk about that. This is her third year writing for Her Campus Laurier.
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