Coping with loneliness in college

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As a college student, it can be easy to feel lonely, especially if you are a freshman, transfer student or if it’s your first time being away from home. I remember I spent a lot of time during the first month of my freshman year sitting alone in my dorm, wishing I had friends to hang out with but feeling too shy to initiate plans with people. I went home most weekends since I had more to do there.

Loneliness is not uncommon in college. In fact, roughly 60 percent of college students reported feeling extreme loneliness in 2016. A majority of us have dealt with it at some point or another in our lives. For many, this can contribute to worse problems, like depression or an anxiety disorder.

Being in a new place can be difficult, and so can meeting new people. But it is also a problem that everyone has dealt with at some point or another. I am a somewhat shy person, but I have found ways to deal with loneliness and meet new people.

If I can do it, then so can everyone else.

The first thing I would suggest is getting involved on campus. Join an RSO, get a campus job and go to events on campus. Those are all ways to get to know people and usually provide pretty comfortable environments. RSOs are an especially good way to meet people because whether you are into sports, music, politics, reading or religion, there’s a group on campus for it where you can find like-minded friends.

Getting to know the people who live near you is also a good way to meet people. I’ve made good friends by simply talking with the people who live on my floor and finding out what things we have in common.

Don’t withdraw too much. I know it can be really tempting to come home every weekend and be with family, but if the only time you spend at college is the time spent in class, you won’t really get the whole experience. If you’re always home, you miss out on a lot of chances to expand your horizons.

Lastly, learn to enjoy the time you spend alone. Find ways to appreciate your own company. Sometimes, a little time alone isn’t a bad thing; it can give you a chance to recharge. My favorite activities to do if I’m feeling a little lonely are read a good book, start watching a new TV show (I recommend “Parks and Recreation;” it’s a really cute show and one of my favorites), try to work on a creative project or just relax with some tea or coffee.

Additionally, if you feel that being lonely or having struggles adjusting to college is leading to a more severe problem, you should utilize the campus counseling center. You can make an appointment or go as a walk-in in the morning, and someone there will be able to help and provide insight.

Remember, it may seem like you’re the only person in the world who has felt this way, but you’re not.

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