College is a significant transition in life. It’s a new life: new schedule, new city, new hobbies, new friends. Some people make the move naturally and find the latter with ease, but others struggle. Even those that appear to be surrounded by friends can suffer feelings of loneliness.
In the strictest sernse, loneliness is characterized by a discrepancy between the relationships a person desires and those they actually have. Surrounding myself with dozens of flakey friends would be a disaster; I need a few close-knit and reliable people. I can only speak for myself, but it seems to be a common preference. Research shows that loneliness is a very personal and individualized experience, and it’s the difference in desires and actuality that crafts loneliness; some people may in fact be more satisfied with a flock of flakes.
Whatever your style, the problem of loneliness is nothing superficial. It’s linked with the inability to deal with daily stress, poorer health, and trouble sleeping. Even more, lonely people can become out-casted and pushed to the periphery of social groups, exacerbating their pain. Described as a “social fabric that fray[s] at the edges,” the social ties between people on the outskirts are essential but can become the most tenuous as loneliness sets in.
How can you avoid loneliness? Keeping in touch with – or rekindling – old friendships can be beneficial and easier when you’re in a new place. Not only that, but each new semester offers new opportunities to meet people in classes and clubs. The key is to not give up.
By Chris Iversen