What Can I Do to Combat Loneliness in College?

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In summary: At the public honors college I made some friends, but I don't see them very often. At the private school I made friends easily and they are still my best friends.The default is just 'male' to most people on these forums. :)
  • #1
MissSilvy
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Somehow I've managed to go 3 semesters at my university without meeting a single new person or making any new friends at all. It's all my fault, obviously; I'm not going to run around blaming the world for my shortcomings but it's clear that this can't go on much longer. I am getting incredibly lonely and, as a result, pretty aimless and ambivalent. I never thought I was much of a social person, and I'm really not but I don't know if I can go another semester just wandering around campus by myself or sitting alone in coffee shops. It's starting to effect my motivation, my plans, and just everything. I'm not falling behind in schoolwork but it's not all that pleasant either.

The past year I've concentrated a lot on myself. I became a runner, I take excellent care of myself, I learned to cook, and I studied a few things that I've always wanted to. It's been great and everything but as good as it was for me personally, it's been hell socially and I spent a lot of my time alone. I've tried joining clubs and talking to people in my classes and going out, but nothing seems to stick. In clubs, I go a few times, get bored, and then stop. My classes are fine but they're not specialized enough that I would have common interests with many people in them and I'm not one to sit around and talk about television or video games or drinking or whatever the hell passes for chit-chat these days.

My roommate is my friend of 10+ years and a decent person most of the time but she just has the effect of sucking the fun out of anything. All she does is sit in the apartment and study her little brains out. She isn't stupid by any means but she seems incredibly jealous as of late that I don't have to study or work as hard as she does for my grades and that leads to this weird one-sided competition. So, needless to say, I don't want to spend much time in the apartment which is fine but difficult to avoid.

So my question is, what can I do? These forums seem to generate a lot of these threads and I've read through a few but most of the responses seem to be vague bromides like 'Join clubs!' or 'Talk to people in your classes!' I appreciate the sentiments, but a lot of these are unimplementable or already tested and tossed out in my situation. Anyhow, thanks for listening and merry Christmas PF!
 
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  • #2
You can always join a fraternity, there's plenty of social people and you're bound to make a friend or two =)
 
  • #3
sandwhale said:
You can always join a fraternity, there's plenty of social people and you're bound to make a friend or two =)

I think you mean a sorority. It's MissSilvy not MisterSilvy.
 
  • #4
I actually rushed freshman year and got in but decided it wasn't for me. The girls were incredibly nice and everything, but the whole 'sisterhood' thing wasn't really my thing. And there was the same problem of not having any interests in common at all. Thank you kindly for the input though :)

I think you mean a sorority. It's MissSilvy not MisterSilvy.
Heh, I think the default is just 'male' to most people on these forums. :)
 
  • #5
Math Is Hard said:
I think you mean a sorority. It's MissSilvy not MisterSilvy.

Well there's always co-ed fraternities right?
 
  • #6
When I was in school, some of my closest friendships were from "forced" connections. For example, I had several roommates that I never met until I lived with them but they turned out to be good friends. Another time, I worked a summer on a fish processing ship...sixteen women to a room. I became very close to several of them.

What I'm trying to say is, I agree with you - college is not a great place to meet people, despite its reputation of endless parties and such. You may need to get out of your usual routine in order to have a good social life.

Would you consider getting a new roommate, or maybe renting a room in a house with several other young folks? It's risky, but sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone if you want a change in your life.
 
  • #7
Most college students are just high school graduates, immature, mainly stupid and ignorant 'folk' types. I haven't met anyone interesting in college, and I won't attribute your 'misfortune' to your personality.
 
  • #8
So far at the college level, I've been enrolled in a community college, a public honors college, and a private school. I'll soon be enrolled at a North Carolina state university. Not every place will socially fit you. At my community college I didn't like anybody. At New College of Florida I felt connected to everyone.

The reason there are vague responses like "join clubs!" is because the solution for each person is different. For me, I like to hang out on the internet. I like to adventure and explore, and be curious, and sometimes that will bring you interesting people. Don't be afraid to talk to someone on a whim, the worst thing that could happen is for them to not like you.
 
  • #9
Volunteer jobs can be great for finding friends - I still work at a park where I began over 20 years ago. For a while we claimed over two dozen volunteers of all ages (but mostly young adults).

Permit me to brag: I fed raptors, and had been in charge of a hundred acres of parkland and a Nature Center for a day. I was appreciated with canoe outings to see bald eagles, day trips for hiking, or visiting historical landmarks free of charge. At a black tie dinner I was the key recipient for a prestigious award as a volunteer for northern Virginia parks.

On Christmas Eve I played Santa for residents at a local nursing home. They have a great attitude for folks who have so much stacked against them. I count many as friends.

I guess your university is large and impersonal. For my freshman year I was one in a class of 1200. Some of my best college friends I met there. I had to move to a "commuting school" next, and didn't make any substantial friends there. In graduate school, the undergraduates were like high schoolers. At least most of the professors were friendly.

If you search down in your soul to what is really important to you - somewhat serious, somewhat fun and somewhat profound - I would ask you to seek out such a group into which you can put your heart.
 
  • #10
MissSilvy said:
My classes are fine but they're not specialized enough that I would have common interests with many people in them and I'm not one to sit around and talk about television or video games or drinking or whatever the hell passes for chit-chat these days.

So my question is, what can I do?
I can relate to how you feel. I'm interested in obtaining useful information in general and although this sounds simple it turns out that not many people share my interest. There are so many forums out there. As for myself, I visit more than a dozen forums daily.

There's so much easily accessible free information on the internet, it's great if you think about it. There are at least one or two dozen youtube channels dedicated to making free information accessible to the average internet user, for example, such as MIT's channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/MIT

There's so much information on the internet, it's up to you to utilize what's available.
 
  • #11
Do you have any hobbies or interests that might have club meetings that you could attend to make new friends with?
Check the bulletin boards for meetings and/or clubs that might interest you or start one yourself.
 
  • #12
sas3 said:
Do you have any hobbies or interests...

This. What do you do for fun? Never mind the clubs part.
 
  • #13
The prevailing opinion seems to be back to clubs or hobbies. Alright, I'll bite :)

For fun? I did fencing and soccer when I was younger but those are both isolating for the most part. What exactly can I do, drag someone to the gym with me and do group workouts? Strange. Maybe the problem is I don't have any interests that are even mildly social. I'm multi-lingual, but that's something you do by yourself unless you want to strangle people. I'm a physics student but we are, by nature, reclusive. Disturbingly, I don't really know what I do for fun.

I think I've just about given up on finding anyone at this school. I know somewhere out there, there must be a few people I'd get along with incredibly, but finding them is a completely different matter.

Would you consider getting a new roommate, or maybe renting a room in a house with several other young folks? It's risky, but sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone if you want a change in your life.
Now that's a good idea. I've already decided there's no way that my current roommate and I are living together but I didn't really think about striking out on my own. Thank you lisab, I'll definitely start looking into that :)
 
  • #14
MissSilvy said:
I think I've just about given up on finding anyone at this school. I know somewhere out there, there must be a few people I'd get along with incredibly, but finding them is a completely different matter.
Your life is precious, live well and be happy. While humans are highly social creatures we're also highly intelligent creatures. For me, I feel as if there isn't an extreme difference between communicating with people on the internet and communicating with people in real life.

I just hope you appreciate the members here at PF, at least enough to feel less lonely.
 
  • #15
MissSilvy said:
Maybe the problem is I don't have any interests that are even mildly social.

That's what I was wondering. Generally you get to know people by engaging in social activities that you enjoy. I have met several new friends just shooting pool at bars and pool halls.

So if you can't think of any social type activities that you enjoy you may want to go out and try some. Maybe you'll find something you like doing. Do you like dancing? You could take a dance class which can also be good exercise, since you seem to like to exercise. Games are good too like billiards (there's some physics there right?), poker, scrabble (there are some insane scrabble people), chess, go, or even D&D and such if you are into that sort of thing. ;-) A friend of mine organized a game night when he was in college. They got together and played all sorts of games from the simple like monopoly to obscure cult classics like the Illuminati card game. They looked for as many weird and off the wall games as they could find. Fencing might be good if there is a fencing club. Around here there used to be several people into shinai though you can't use one like a foil or you'll hurt someone. If you like sword fighting stuff there are also groups like the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism).

There are tons of things that you could get into but unfortunately I can not really come up with anything particularly suitable since I do not know you well.
 
  • #16
As good a first post as any, I suppose.

Meh...I felt the same way my freshman year. I go to a big school that is BIG on sports. People cry. I personally find it hilarious, but our quarterback getting sacked or throwing a terrible pass is a real tear jerker, like pouring onion juice right into the eye for most people. My flippant attitude towards football turned quite a few people away from me, but it attracted my current group of friends (most of them actually like football). I've actually gone to games, just in the interest of doing something different.

I'd say the only reasonable advice that could be given is to try to be more "active" and to not be afraid to speak to people. At worst they'll give you a cold shoulder. You may deal with this any way you wish, including calling them dirty names in your head, like Jerk Face McMeanie. At best, you've made a new acquaintance who may one day become a good friend!

Edit: HA! 0 posts, I'm like a specter! Sweet!
 
  • #17
Hmmm, allow me some steps on thin ice. Just an idea. Could it be that you are a sort of perfectionist? And would that reflect that in your social contact with others? I mean, why use words like ' unimplementable'. Could it be that they think that you are not in their league.

Ever tried the 'look, silly me' approach?
 
  • #18
Andre said:
Hmmm, allow me some steps on thin ice. Just an idea. Could it be that you are a sort of perfectionist? And would that reflect that in your social contact with others? I mean, why use words like ' unimplementable'. Could it be that they think that you are not in their league.

Ever tried the 'look, silly me' approach?

This.
 
  • #19
Andre said:
I mean, why use words like ' unimplementable'.

Maybe because they're over compensating (especially since "unimplementable" isn't a word! :wink:).
 
  • #20
But certainly creative :smile:
 
  • #21
Math Is Hard said:
I think you mean a sorority. It's MissSilvy not MisterSilvy.

I'm sure she'd make plenty of new friends in a fraternity. :!)
 
  • #22
MissSilvy said:
Maybe the problem is I don't have any interests that are even mildly social. I'm multi-lingual, but that's something you do by yourself unless you want to strangle people. I'm a physics student but we are, by nature, reclusive. Disturbingly, I don't really know what I do for fun.

I think I've just about given up on finding anyone at this school.

Well, I'm not really sure how you can be multi-lingual by yourself (do you have conversations with yourself in different languages?), but you should definitely figure out what to do for fun.

There's another option: Start dating someone. Ask someone out and get to know someone. You never know where stuff like that will go and what social avenues it will open up.
 
  • #23
MissSilvy said:
Somehow I've managed to go 3 semesters at my university without meeting a single new person or making any new friends at all. It's all my fault, obviously; I'm not going to run around blaming the world for my shortcomings but it's clear that this can't go on much longer. I am getting incredibly lonely and, as a result, pretty aimless and ambivalent. I never thought I was much of a social person, and I'm really not but I don't know if I can go another semester just wandering around campus by myself or sitting alone in coffee shops. It's starting to effect my motivation, my plans, and just everything. I'm not falling behind in schoolwork but it's not all that pleasant either.

The past year I've concentrated a lot on myself. I became a runner, I take excellent care of myself, I learned to cook, and I studied a few things that I've always wanted to. It's been great and everything but as good as it was for me personally, it's been hell socially and I spent a lot of my time alone. I've tried joining clubs and talking to people in my classes and going out, but nothing seems to stick. In clubs, I go a few times, get bored, and then stop. My classes are fine but they're not specialized enough that I would have common interests with many people in them and I'm not one to sit around and talk about television or video games or drinking or whatever the hell passes for chit-chat these days.

My roommate is my friend of 10+ years and a decent person most of the time but she just has the effect of sucking the fun out of anything. All she does is sit in the apartment and study her little brains out. She isn't stupid by any means but she seems incredibly jealous as of late that I don't have to study or work as hard as she does for my grades and that leads to this weird one-sided competition. So, needless to say, I don't want to spend much time in the apartment which is fine but difficult to avoid.

So my question is, what can I do? These forums seem to generate a lot of these threads and I've read through a few but most of the responses seem to be vague bromides like 'Join clubs!' or 'Talk to people in your classes!' I appreciate the sentiments, but a lot of these are unimplementable or already tested and tossed out in my situation. Anyhow, thanks for listening and merry Christmas PF!
Has one tried the student chapter of APS - http://www.aps.org/studentsandeducators/index.cfm

I would imagine that there are like-minded students at one's school, although when I studied physics, the class was pretty competitive. All my friends were outside of the physics department.

I played soccer/football with some. I went running - usually by myself. If I wasn't in class or doing homework, I was working to pay for school. Still I had a few close friends, and I still keep in touch with my closest friend from university.

Another possibility would be to attend a local church or religion institution, most of which are pretty social.


I would hope PF fills in some holes.
 
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  • #24
How does lonely feel? I am pretty much a hobbit in some sense. I can easily make friends. You just talk to people. I just rather not...95% of the time. I have my brother and sister in law that are highly intelligent, and perfect people, they regard others positions and feelings and try to make social interaction benefit the group. It's hard to find people like that, and that's all I want really. Other than that I rather be inside my head, its more fun...I've never felt lonely...maybe bored.

I've been trying to become social myself. I have social anxiety disorder, so I know how screwed up that whole scene is. Only advice I can say is that just talk to people, you'd be surprised how many people keep to social conformity. I talked to a lady at work, for the most part normal but then I was reading an article on physics and she starts chatting up about Einstein and his work. Her friend turned out to be some top neurosurgeon in India. You would never think about it.

You may have to make chit chat, I suck at it but just observe people and how they interact. Then try it out. People will tell you, join clubs, do this but in essence it's all the same. You have to reach out or someone else has to. Most people won't give you what you want, but someone eventually will.

Simple in theory hard in practice.

If you live in Ontario, Canada near Hamilton I invite you to a drink. (serious)

There is no other method I am sorry. There is no formula, or anything unless your thinking about kidnapping people, but that generally doesn't work out for people.

Trust me. Your mindset is what is hindering your results. I'll prove it to you if you take that drink offer.
 
  • #25
Astronuc said:
Another possibility would be to attend a local church or religion institution, most of which are pretty social.
Agreed. Even, if you are not very religious, try to do some volunteer work(which a church/temple/etc. may organize) you are bound to meet some amiable folk.
 
  • #26
Virtuous said:
Only advice I can say is that just talk to people, you'd be surprised how many people keep to social conformity. I talked to a lady at work, for the most part normal but then I was reading an article on physics and she starts chatting up about Einstein and his work. Her friend turned out to be some top neurosurgeon in India. You would never think about it.

yes indeed. You don't have to wait to join a club, you can interact with people right away. Strike up a convo with a store clerk, "hi, is it busy today?" or with any other people you encounter throughout your day. Some people might not respond, but most are actually eager to jump in the small talk. And the process of constant interaction will set you up in a receptive mood and won't make you feel lonely.

So once you get in a state where you don't need any friends, they will show up in boatloads.
 
  • #27
I agree with Virtuous and Waht. Feeling lonely usually means, not that you can't meet people, but that you don't feel you are immediately finding the kind and quality of conversations you want. The solution is to make casual friends with a large number of people wherever you encounter them, be willing to talk about superficial things, and eventually you'll find this leads to meeting people whose conversation you actually enjoy. As Virtuous mentioned, it's possible to know someone a long time before you accidentally discover they are conversant with some subject you're interested in, and, anyone you meet can introduce you to someone else you might end up connecting with.

As waht said, a large number of casual acquaintances with whom you have brief, pleasant exchanges every day, goes a long way toward keeping a person feeling connected to humanity, and not lonely.

Personally I am not usually drawn to people with whom I already share some common interest and qualities. I am most intrigued by people who are very different from me. I want to find out what makes them tick, and I expend most of my social efforts in figuring out how to communicate with people whose personalities are radically different than mine.
 
  • #28
Astronuc said:
I would imagine that there are like-minded students at one's school, although when I studied physics, the class was pretty competitive. All my friends were outside of the physics department.

The climate probably varies from one school to another, and may have varied in general with time. When I was an undergraduate about 35 years ago (egad :bugeye:) at a small liberal-arts college, the "physics people" tended to stick together. On the physics floor of the science building, there was a room which we grandly called the "physics library," where a bunch of us spent many or most of our evenings studying and socializing. Sometimes we'd go out to do something as a group, not that there were very many such options in the village where the college was located. I don't think I had any real friends outside that group.

Later, when I was in grad school, my "office" was a cubicle in a large room along with most of the other particle physics grad students. I fell in with a small group that went out regularly to do things in the evening as a break from working. I did have some friends outside that circle, because I was into bicycle touring and rode almost every weekend with the local bicycle club.
 
  • #29
I just sent you a friend request, Silvy. :)
 
  • #30
MissSilvy:

where are you? (like a general area)----warm climate? cold? city area? small community? etc?
 
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  • #31
Ack, you guys are right. As usual. It's just difficult to talk to people sometimes, as stupid as that sounds. And you are absolutely correct, I am a pretty intense perfectionist. I don't run around judging other people not worthy enough to grace with my presence or anything of the sort but I will admit I section myself off from other people in my head quite often. I suppose all I can do is start talking to other people and hope we strike it off? College is a learning experience after all.

And thank you, but I don't date currently. I'm not that sort of lonely :)

Thank you MIH and Virtuous! You guys are quite sweet. I accepted your friend request but unfortunately I have to decline the drink. I live in northern Illinois, so that'd be quite a trek. I'll keep it in mind if I'm ever in Ontario though!

Rewebster: My university is a small college town in Illinois. Right now, it's quite cold, unfortunately.
 
  • #32
Jesus.

If you don't want to be lonely then get out there and start meeting people.

Its not hard, but you seem to enjoy not doing it.

Yes, 98% of the people you meet are losers, and yet if you keep trying every day you will have quite a few friends in a months time.

I'm sick of people that think like this. Come back DOWN TO EARTH.
 
  • #33
MissSilvy said:
Ack, you guys are right. As usual. It's just difficult to talk to people sometimes, as stupid as that sounds. And you are absolutely correct, I am a pretty intense perfectionist. I don't run around judging other people not worthy enough to grace with my presence or anything of the sort but I will admit I section myself off from other people in my head quite often. I suppose all I can do is start talking to other people and hope we strike it off? College is a learning experience after all.

And thank you, but I don't date currently. I'm not that sort of lonely :)

Thank you MIH and Virtuous! You guys are quite sweet. I accepted your friend request but unfortunately I have to decline the drink. I live in northern Illinois, so that'd be quite a trek. I'll keep it in mind if I'm ever in Ontario though!

Rewebster: My university is a small college town in Illinois. Right now, it's quite cold, unfortunately.

Small towns in Illinois can seem they're sometimes far away from things that seem more interesting--sometimes---I went to a small college in Illinois, and still live in a 'smaller' town in Illinois.

Part of things depend on how intense your devotion to your field of studies is (hopefully you've decided already)---it may sound funny, but find some people doing (or when they are going to 'do' some things) in the physics dept. Socially ask someone on the floor to go to some activity---there's usually something going on someplace all the time--

One big thing, just ask others what they're going to do, and ask to join them
 
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  • #34
MissSilvy said:
Rewebster: My university is a small college town in Illinois. Right now, it's quite cold, unfortunately.

Remember that in terms of sociability, college is very different from universities. It's often recommended by many high-school and college/university counsellors that you take the social environment you prefer into account during your school selections.

Universities typically have a very large student base (15k+) can sometimes be surrounded by sufficient resources for their students to live very near or on campus. These schools, due to the vast number of students promotes diversity and school spirit, you tend to see larger groups of people with similar interests then what would typically be considered a minority in college. Universities are well known for school spirit in pep rallies, varsity sports, clubs, etc.

Colleges are commonly labeled as "commuter schools." Typically students don't always live near or on campus, and colleges don't usually have a large base of students (compared to universities) as to promote those "small minority groups." Most colleges students go to do their classes, study a little bit, then head on the 50 minute ride home.

It is duly emphasized to factor night life, housing & residence, student spirit, school traditions etc. And not simply rely on the academic reputation and prestige in the school. A friend of mine pursued her B. Sc in UWO (University of Western Ontario) after being accepted to several schools, because of the schools social reputation, and she's faring quite well there.

And while social reputation might imply thoughts of "well i don't think I am necessarily a social butterfly" includes students like yourself. Again usually the larger the amount of students, the greater those "selections" of people become noticeable. It could be easier (or harder) to find people with similar interests depending on your approach.

Colleges do have that small and intimate feeling, however, some students could be intimidated by being around the same small group of people all the time and it could be negative rather then positive (this includes myself) Sometimes a larger body of students and "variety" proves to help some people feel more comfortable branching out to other people.

I would consider myself a social person, I'm pursuing a BBA, and have a dance career on the side. However i have not always been "social." The majority of my teenage years were spent in books and moving around. I do not fare well in small campuses. I enjoy big campuses and universities, it is a thrill of mine to walk up to new people everyday to try and meet and network with as many people as possible.. As i said i have not always been this way.. It came in a sort of "cheesy revolution" regarding a girlfriend of mine. I learned the rule that if you want something, take it. And ever since i live by it. I consider it my "motto" that if you want something, and don't do everything you can to get it, then you don't want it enough.

If you want to meet people, go out and meet people. Simple prospect, yet it's not-surprisingly hard for some people to do. You have to realize, after you take the complications and factor out all the common factors your left with: If you want to talk to someone, talk to them. It's just that simple. Remember that people naturally only feel comfortable around people that appear open and confident. Their have been days where I've felt lonely, and went down to the library or dance studio and told myself i wouldn't leave until i have a new acquaintance. Again, i have quite a few close friends, and a wide variety of acquaintances. I typically am uncomfortable when i don't know people, same as yourself, the difference is i do what is needed to make myself comfortable.

Sometimes that means biting the bullet and walking up to that "cute" guy and saying hi. Even if your not looking for a relationship, the analogy still applies. Its REALLY difficult to do, it takes a lot of attempts. But its infinitely valuable. Everything in this world revolves around communication. Learn to communicate. You will never find anyone with "similarities" unless you motivate yourself to get to know someone that you have no clue about. Even if all you have in common is that you both like running on the treadmill before a workout. Nothing can hurt just to say "Hey, How are you?" its perfectly normal. And I'm sure if I said it to you, when your next to me in a lecture hall, you wouldn't feel to awkward :)

Though keep in mind, people approach (usually) those who seem approachable, so smile, say hi, be cordial to everyone you meet. Talk to people if you have even the slightest desire to, and don't worry about the "will they think I am weird" feeling you get at the back of your throat.

This is why its my motto :) After taking away all the complicated ********, your left with take what you want, and don't worry what anyone assumes.

Let me know if this helps.

Regards,
Senjai
 
  • #35
Senjai said:
Remember that in terms of sociability, college is very different from universities. It's often recommended by many high-school and college/university counsellors that you take the social environment you prefer into account during your school selections.
..

Let me know if this helps.

Regards,
Senjai

I am sorry to point out but I believe Canadian universities = American colleges.
 

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