Loneliness or Lack of Social Support

If I’m such a legend, then why am I so lonely? Let me tell you, legends are all very well if you’ve got somebody around who loves you.”
– Judy Garland

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”
– Mother Teresa

For some students, college can be a lonely time. For example, many freshmen are maxing out on new experiences. They may be living on their own for the first time; dealing with balancing classes, jobs, living with a roommate they don’t know, and sometimes living in a strange city. In addition to academic survival, students are getting ready for a career, becoming independent adults, and identifying their values. Frequently they are doing this alone, separated from old friends and family for the first time.

If you are a student feeling lonely at college you’re not the only one… regardless of how others appear. Remember, most of us try to appear happier than we feel. Loneliness is a common experience among students and, student loneliness is associated with higher rates of dropping out of school, depression, thoughts of suicide, and self-destructive behaviors. Lonely people are more likely to have low self-esteem and have fewer social skills, which feeds their loneliness. Lonely students also tend to have lower immune responses which may explain why first year students tend to visit health centers more than more advanced students. Males report greater loneliness than females. Males are also more likely to blame themselves for their loneliness and see loneliness as a personal failure. There is also a relationship between loneliness and internet use.

Some people feel lonely even though they have lots of friends, while others may have very few friends and not feel lonely at all. People who feel lonely usually have similar reasons for fearing both being alone and rejected. People can fear rejection if they see themselves as lacking the skills to deal with the situation they are in, and that fear can be increased by the importance placed on the other person. Some may see rejection as a sign that they will end up alone in life. People may believe that they are not able to create their own happiness, so they look for others to make them happy. Others may think that being alone means they have been rejected, this usually happens when people base their self-image on what others think of them.

Loneliness and fear of loneliness can interfere with people’s lives, below are some strategies that can help:

Strategies for Loneliness and Fear of Loneliness

  • Wayne Dyer wrote, “You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” If you follow your conscience you’ll be proud of yourself and will enjoy your company.
  • To have a friend, be a friend. By noticing the pain of others and helping others, you will notice that you are not focusing on your own pain.
  • Keeping a journal helps you purge negativity and understand your life. Journaling also gives you someone to talk to, yourself.
  • Joining groups gives you the opportunity to turn the focus away from yourself. Instead of looking for friends you have the opportunity to befriend others, instead of looking for someone to fix your loneliness, fix someone else’s.
  • Loneliness drains energy and is a passive state. Being active and exercising is active, and creates energy.

If loneliness is interfering with your life The Counseling Center may be able to help.

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