Avoiding Feelings of Loneliness
Whether you are by yourself in your room, illuminated by the light of your computer screen, or sitting in the cafeteria surrounded by chattering people, loneliness can strike. It is a strange, overpowering feeling, often walking hand-in-hand with other sad feelings and their negative consequences.
Loneliness can wipe the smile off your face, drain the color from your surroundings, and make you feel like staying put in a pit of self-pity and general isolation. Even on a college campus, where it is difficult to escape the hustle and bustle of other students going about their business, it is possible to succumb to this unfortunate feeling, and people often forget that being alone, or feeling alone once in a while, is normal, and let themselves be brought down.
The first step to overcoming loneliness is to quit feeling bad about it. While this is definitely easier said than done, feeling sorry for yourself, getting angry, or being sad about being alone is not going to help the situation. Instead, relish your alone time. Read a book, watch an embarrassing teen Disney movie without headphones, or go on a walk to clear your head. Somebody once told me that it is possible to find fun in everything. While I don’t think this is necessarily true 100% of the time, it does apply to this: once you distract yourself from the fact that nobody is around to hang out with you, being alone doesn’t feel so bad.
Perhaps your loneliness is more serious than a day or two without friends. If you feel alone within your social circle, don’t have friends, or lack the courage to step out and make a change, you need to not dwell on how alone you feel. Flopping listlessly on your bed and allowing negative thoughts about yourself and your loneliness to overwhelm you is the wrong thing to do. Distract yourself any way you know how. Call up a family member and catch up with how they are doing. Write a letter. Paint. Go to the gym. Do anything to keep you from sitting quietly in the dark feeling miserable.
Figure out the roots of your loneliness and try to remedy them. If you cannot seem to make friends, join a club, or go to a show. At Clark, there are many, many opportunities to be social, and even if you hate every second, you’ll feel proud of yourself when you made it through an event and came away knowing the names of a couple more people. For some, making friends is really difficult, but when you do, it’s worth the trouble. If you have friends but feel stuck, step out of that social circle for a bit. Talk to that dude you see drawing by the window or sit with that girl you went to Target with that one time. There is nothing wrong with trying to broaden your friend group, or changing friend groups entirely.
Don’t let the fear of becoming lonely in the future keep you from escaping loneliness in the present. If you are prone to cycling through periods of loneliness, motivate yourself to get out of it as soon as possible. Don’t give up and decide that since you think you’ll feel terribly lonely again anyway, it isn’t worth trying feel happy. It is always worth it.
Even though it might feel as if you are adrift in a sea of people yet completely alone, you most likely aren’t. Somewhere, somebody is your friend, somebody wants to talk to you, and somebody is thinking about you. I know you can’t really grasp the mental presence of a person when they are physically not there, but understanding that someone out there is thinking about you can make you feel better.
Being alone doesn’t have to be unpleasant. It is 100% possible to find peace in, and even enjoy solitude. The difference between loneliness and solitude is that in one, you feel unhappy being by yourself, and in the other, you relish it. Spending time without company can be a window of opportunity. You can learn a new skill, figure out what makes you happy, or conquer a huge project, like writing a novella.
To sum-up, don’t be afraid to be alone, and don’t feel overpowered by it either. Understand that your loneliness is temporary. One day, someone will come along. Until then, find happiness within yourself, and be comfortable being your own company.