There is nothing easy about feeling lonely. Everyone feels it sometimes, but what I’ve noticed is that young adulthood brings much more loneliness than any of us anticipated it would. During this transitional time in our lives as college students, our sense of stability wavers. Feeling unstable may cause us to lose our sense of belonging. Once you get into your late teens/early 20s, things shift. Whether you stay at home or go away to school, losing contact with people is inevitable. What once made us feel the most at home becomes hard to connect with. With feeling like we belong somewhere and the concept of “home” being so closely tied, losing both altogether can be challenging.
If you are more of an independent person like me, I know that it’s hard to feel like you need people. The fact of the matter is that every single person wants to feel like they belong somewhere. Moving to a new place, joining a new club/team, or even staying home while everyone else moves away can feel alienating. We ask ourselves “where do I go from here?” The worst part can be when we aren’t sure where we are supposed to be.
What I’ve noticed about my 20s so far is that things can get existential if I overthink. I worry about if I am in the right place. I become anxious when I think too long and too hard about if my relationships are good (even if I know in my heart they bring me joy). My mind can’t help but wonder if my time is being wasted. Somewhere amongst the chaos of my own heart, I lose sight of where I belong. What always brings me back down though, are my friends and family.
Sometimes my friends feel like my family when I spend a lot of time away from home. A vital part of feeling like you belong somewhere is allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Loneliness distorts our judgment of who we actually have beside us. It makes us feel rejected and left out. If you get anything out of reading this blog I want it to be this: do not let loneliness stop you from surrounding yourself with people who make you feel wanted. You deserve to feel like you belong somewhere. Wanting security is not a bad thing; it’s completely natural.
This isn’t to say that seeking out a place that gives you a sense of “home” is easy. Maybe you’re an introvert and find it difficult to insert yourself into any spaces that make you feel vulnerable. Or maybe you’ve been turned away in the past by people you thought were your friends. I beg you to try and find your people. The people that make you think, “this is where I’m meant to be.” The people that will love you regardless of everything.
Seek out places both on and off campus that give you comfort; somewhere that you can have meaningful conversations and be supported. There will be those who come and go, but you will know the people who intend to stick by you when you meet them. I challenge you to let your walls down. Be open to the possibility of having long lasting relationships because, in the end, those relationships are going to make you feel more like you belong than anything. No physical building you call home could ever give your soul the warmth of a community that tells you, “you belong here.”