Loneliness: “the absence of interpersonal communication when it’s needed or desired, or deeply inadequate interpersonal communication” (Charles Veenstra).
I know that we don’t all say it, but I do believe that most of us think that college is about making friends, along with getting an education. At Dordt we stress our strong community, and people go on and on about how friendly everyone is on Dordt’s campus.
We hear friends laughing all the time, and we see Snapchats and Instagrams of friends hanging out. Everyone is talking about how great their life is.
There are a few people who aren’t talking, however. Or at least not very loudly. These people are lonely. Maybe not all the time, but on weekends, at the Commons, or before class they do not feel like part of the crowd. They go to colleges everywhere, and even Dordt college.
I have experienced my fair share of loneliness as a college student. My freshman year, even though I was part of the soccer team, I knew people from classes, and I had friends from church, I still often felt like nobody knew me, understood me or, in my worst moments, even cared if I was around or not. Even this year I have moments where I feel like I am alone, even while there are many people around me.
Although we don’t like to admit it, a lot of college students are lonely. But I think that admitting it will actually help solve the problem. When we admit it, we can take steps in the right direction. Again, I have some advice from Dr. Veenstra:
To the students who are feeling lonely: you are not the only one! You are not the odd one out—there are other people feeling alone, and many of them may even look like they’re having a good time. But when you are feeling lonely, one of the best ways to help yourself is by helping others. Serving others allows you to move outside yourself and stop focusing on your emotions. And, in turn, don’t be afraid to receive help from others. We weren’t made to have to face problems on our own.
To all students, lonely or not: look out for lonely students! We all learned how to go sit with the people sitting by themselves when we were in elementary school; why not do that in college (or high school!)? Beyond that, be the face of Jesus to everyone you see—be a friend.
Now, please take this is the most non-cheesy, sincerest, way possible. Pretend you’ve never heard it before and let it sink in. Jesus calls us his friends. That is amazing. Let that be your motivation for being a friend to those around you.
John 15:15 “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”