On Feeling Lonely
Hello! Happy October!
Today, I’ll be talking about a difficult topic, which is about feeling alone.
Around the middle of first semester of my freshman year, I fell into a slump. My grades were fine, but those first few weeks where everything was new and exciting had passed, and I kept asking myself such questions: “Why don’t I have a lot of friends yet?” “Why doesn’t this feel like home?” I really started to overthink everything, when in reality I was experiencing something very common. When I would visit my hometown, Cedar Falls, that didn’t quite feel like home anymore, but when I would return to Ames it didn’t feel like home either. I was really confused.
Leaving my dorm room became more and more difficult as I lost the motivation to go outside. I was so used to having a group of friends in high school that I saw everyday, so when I came here and didn’t have that, everything felt awkward and lonesome. I wasn’t used to going to public places by myself, and especially eating in public was hard for me. I didn’t know who to talk to about my daily life. It really felt lonely.
Eventually, I got over my slump. I told myself that if I didn’t get my act together, it would only get worse from here. I motivated myself by putting positive sticky notes all over my room with days or events that I was looking forward to, and I started taking risks by approaching people or reaching out for help.
Over time, I got used to eating meals by myself until it started to feel liberating. I took advantage of spending most of my time by myself; I got to eat exactly what I wanted, save money to buy myself nice things, and I got to do the things that I wanted to do. I learned a lot of things about myself. In high school, I would have never been able to go out and eat alone or read alone, but now it’s nothing to me. I feel a lot more independent and stronger as a person.
And of course, over time, I found the right people for me. It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened naturally. It’s not realistic to expect yourself to find a group of people right away, especially when everyone else is probably in the same shoes as you. Other people are just as nervous as you are to find new friends.
It’s all about taking the time to figure yourself out, and learning how to take steps by yourself. It’s a good life skill to have, as it is likely that you’ll be moving from place to place from now on pretty frequently whether you get an internship or land different jobs.
I just want to say, if you can relate at all to my experiences, that you are definitely not alone. I talked to many people who felt this way too, but all of them said the same general thing, which was that it just takes time. A lot of people are in the same shoes as you, wanting to reach out to people but not knowing how. Sometimes, starting a conversation is the way to gain lasting relationships. Just remember that you are not alone, and everything is temporary.
Don’t think about it too hard and enjoy taking everything as a learning experience. The right people will join your journey along the way. Focus on yourself.