Whether you’re starting your journey moving into halls or doing it all again this year, loneliness creeps up on us all. I'm going into second year and although I'm certainly not in the same position as last year (familiarity with faces, places, friends and spaces) it can sometimes feel like a full circle.
Watching parents drive away to leave you in an empty room of boxes is quite possibly one of the most depressing things you experience as a student. Even if you’re returning back to university, it’s likely that you’ve just spent three or four months back at home, familiarising yourself once again with the blare of a PS4 and lively discussions (bordering on shouting matches) in the background. And then – just like that – it disappears. You're on your own. Now that’s said, enough with the dramatics – there are plenty of things that will help this lurking feeling ebb away into its own little void.
After this sudden change of environment, things will feel a little different. It’s really helpful to acknowledge that you’re human, and yes, you maybe might (just a little) miss your dad’s terrible cooking. Feeling alone when moving into a new place is completely normal. As much as I wish it could, it isn’t something you can switch off overnight. It’s easy to feel frustrated at yourself for not being as cheerful as you thought you’d be all the time. Try and get rid of these expectations; don’t expect that things will change instantaneously as soon as you start making some friends over freshers freebies. Let it fade in its own time. Don’t put pressure on yourself to completely get rid of loneliness as counter intuitive as that may seem, because it is completely normal.
Ironically, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. You’d be surprised to see just how many people feel the same as you do but just don’t show it. Again, this comes under a similar bracket of letting it be and letting it pass on its own. Trust that you won’t feel like this forever, and hold onto the moments in which feeling loneliness popped out of sight. This usually comes when you put your mind to something else. If you’re not in the sociable mood – which is completely understandable in freshers week (or the season of social burnout) – try reading a book or watching some of your favourite series. However, it’s equally important to try and get out of your comfort zone when ready to do so.
If you are a fresher, try to not let loneliness stop the fun of starting university. Check out some of my freshers blogs for tips and tricks on getting through the week. It can often be daunting and it’s important to respect your social (and alcoholic!) limits, but meeting new people and doing new things can really help alleviate it. Even if you’re joining university again, surrounding yourself (not overwhelming yourself) with new activities will help to refocus things. Hopefully this helps you remember: loneliness is completely normal and I feel it too.
Anisha Minocha is studying English and Spanish at the University of St Andrews. She is a passionate writer and poet whose work has been published in anthologies, magazines, blogs and won competitions. Contributing to Sink Magazine, she is keen to utilize the voice of young people and share work through her creative writing blog. As a climate activist, she has combined her love for words and the planet in a performance of spoken word at the Royal Exchange Theatre in 'Letters to the Earth'. She also co-runs Young Friends of the Earth: Manchester and has organised workshops, participated in panels and spoken at Manchester Cathedral.
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