University is frequently considered the best years of your life. Not only do you acquire and develop skills highly sought after by employers, but you will make new friends, make memories to last a lifetime, and encounter opportunities that would have otherwise been unavailable. In a lot of cases this is true. But what happens when your university experience doesn’t match up? It can be tough to handle and, in my experience, has left me feeling low and isolated. It is my hope that by sharing my experience and a couple of tips, we can normalise loneliness at university and bring some comfort to others.
I’m no stranger to being introverted. I have always felt comfortable in my own company and often find socialising tiring. Unfortunately, this does not negate my need for social interaction, but it can be incredibly frustrating when my introversion prevents me from pursuing solutions to my loneliness. There are, of course, an abundance of societies and socials at university but often attending and taking the first steps in creating connections with your peers can be terrifying.
My second rather large obstacle comes in the form of homesickness
I treasure the friends that I have made, and I was lucky enough to click with the majority of my flatmates so became comfortable early on in my time at university. I had no reason to go out of my comfort zone to seek friendships elsewhere. But as they found connections outside of our flat, I started to realise that I could not always depend on their presence but by then I had created a wall in my mind.
My second rather large obstacle comes in the form of homesickness. It did not surprise me that I missed home, it was something that I was aware of when applying to university. I have always struggled with homesickness with varying degrees of severity. I often find myself wanting to go home, especially when things get tough. Homesickness is far more common than it may seem, as I have learned since being at university. But when you get stuck in your own bubble it can be difficult to remember that, and it only serves to make you feel more alone.
Now, I may not be particularly qualified to provide these tips and should perhaps learn to heed my own advice. Nonetheless, I hope that the following can help those in a similar position to me and will perhaps hold me more accountable.
I opened up to them and now I feel that someone has my back
Firstly, if you are facing loneliness, please talk to someone. I know that this can be incredibly frustrating to hear. But I can genuinely say that it helps. I was lucky enough to come to university with a close friend from secondary school and I opened up to them and now I feel that someone has my back. Your friends can look out for you if they know you are struggling, and you may just discover that they feel a similar way. Make sure you reconnect with the friends you do have at university, don’t isolate yourself.
Secondly, I would encourage you to embrace being alone. There may come a time that a bit of me-time is rare to come by. So learn to enjoy your own company. Use the time to delve into that book or television series that you’ve been excited for and then you may look forward to that alone time.
Don’t think any less of yourself if you do not thrive at university all the time
Finally, try to find some societies that make you feel at home. I understand that this can be difficult but if you can take those first few steps then you’ll feel a lot better in the long run. I would personally recommend the Warwick Student Cinema as a starting point; there are so many ways to get involved, everyone is welcoming, and I know for a fact that the social secretary is keen to make everyone feel included and part of the WSC family.
I hope that by sharing my experience with loneliness that I might provide some comfort. Don’t think any less of yourself if you do not thrive at university all the time. Your time at university is your own and you can make it whatever you desire, don’t compare it to the experiences of others. Take care.
If you need further support, the Wellbeing Support Services are able to provide practical advice, resources and support for your wellbeing and give you help in accessing external services.