Loneliness and Making Friends in College

Hello hello lovely souls,

One of the hardest things about starting college is leaving behind your friend group from high school.  These are the people you grew up with, depended on to survive high school, and threw caps into the air with at graduation.  Starting college is new, and exciting, and orientation keeps you very busy, but then you hit a wall.  You’re sitting in your dorm room, you only kind of know your roommate, you have tons of new numbers on your phone from people you’ve met and may never speak to again, and the loneliness hits.  First of all, THIS IS COMPLETELY NORMAL.  Whether you’re a freshman and it’s the first week of college or the eighth, or you’re a sophomore, junior, or senior, there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling lonely or feeling like you don’t have friends.  Making friends is hard.  Some come, some go, sometimes you’re part of a group, sometimes you’re not.  These things are fluid, and sometimes we find ourselves in limbo, and that’s ok.

However, if you’re feeling especially lonely and you aren’t sure how to cope, here are a few tips:

  1. Recognize that what you’re feeling is normal and ok. Beating yourself up about it won’t do you any good.
  2. Find solace in your own company.  It’s definitely a difficult thing to learn, but learning to be happy on your own, with your own thoughts, and with your own company, is super helpful.  Depending on other people for happiness is the foundation of many relationships, but depending solely on other people for happiness sets you up for loneliness in the future.
  3. Do something you love.  Take your mind of things by reading a book, watching a movie, drawing, writing, doing something outside, whatever floats your boat.
  4. Pet a dog.  Petting a dog is the key to life.

 

If you’re looking for ways to make more friends in college, here are a few tips:

  1. Reach out.  I know, I know, this is the hard part.  Talking to people is hard, understanding people is hard.  But by and large college students don’t bite, and even if putting yourself out there is scary and uncomfortable, the best things in life happen when you are outside your comfort zone.
  2. Ask to sit with someone in the dining hall.  If you see someone sitting by themselves in the dining hall (or even a small group of people) and they don’t seem actively engaged in work, ask to sit with them.  Many a friendship has been struck over Carm’s stir fry.
  3. Clubs and activities.  This may seem like overused advice, but it’s pretty legit.  By joining clubs or activities, you know you are meeting people with similar interests, which is already part of the compatibility battle won.  Also, a lot of clubs host bonding activities for their members which allows you to get to know people even better.
  4. Talk to people in your hall.  In addition to any programming or hall snacks your RA puts on, never underestimate the value of a quick smile and hello in the bathroom as a tool to start making friends in your hall.
  5. Lastly, be patient with yourself.  Making friends takes time, and how much time varies from person to person.  You’ll get there. I have faith in you.

“Loneliness adds beauty to life. It puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better.” –Henry Rollins

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