One of the most challenging parts of coming to college is finding friends. As a transfer student and commuter, it was challenging for me to find my place here at first. I was trapped in the same routine of not really talking to anyone in class and going straight home afterwards, all while feeling deprived of the fun that the college experience was supposed to be about. I couldn’t help but think things would never change.
Loneliness hurts not just because we long to love and be loved but because it forces us to face who we truly are. A lonely person doesn’t have the reassurance from others that they are beautiful, smart or worthy. Instead, they are left with just themselves. Can you be beautiful, smart, funny or really anything if nobody is there to acknowledge it? Are you just the sum of everyone else’s beliefs of who you are or are you the sum of your beliefs of who you are? Or are you simply you?
This year I had a group of friends who, in their senior year, were anxious to finally go on a spring break trip together. They were initially planning on a cruise and then at the last second they got cold feet because of the cost. In the end, with only weeks until break, they ended up scrambling to book flights to Las Vegas. Now, this fascinated me. Why was it their first instinct to go to Las Vegas? Why is it the same instinct for so many others? Is Las Vegas so incredible and so rare that it deserves the honor of being a universal destination of everyone’s desire? I find that hard to believe and if you think I’m crazy, just take a second to write down all of the things that are totally restricted to Las Vegas. Cool bars, clubs and shows? Maybe, but to presume those can only be found in Las Vegas is a bit ludicrous.
Instead, it seems a lot more likely that there is probably nothing all that unique about Las Vegas at all. We only want to go there because we think everybody else wants to go there. Because we have been told through the media and people that this is a place where we should desire to go, this eventually was enough to make us think that it was our desire as well. Let’s call this the “Las Vegas effect” for now.
So what does this all have to do with being lonely? Well, it all goes back to who you truly are as a person. Think about this “Las Vegas effect” within every aspect of your own life. Is it not possible that we have been fooled into thinking we are something we are not? Are the things you like and dislike the result of your own genuine judgment or have they been pounded into your head by others? I won’t pretend that loneliness is this amazing thing, but it does give you a special opportunity to consider these things without the noise and opinions of others around you.
Take the time to explore the things you thought you loved and hated one more time through. Walk a different route to your classes the next chance you get. Most importantly, write and reflect on who you really are and draw new conclusions. You will be able to abandon the beliefs that others have placed inside you—that being lonely makes you a “loser” or unworthy of love.
You will find better explanations, like perhaps finding friendship is a bit like children learning how to walk. Some are slower to learn, but after you give them enough time, the ones who took a little longer looks just as good as the rest.