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Opinions | Alone but not lonely

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We’ve reached a point of exhaustion in the school year where we may begin to isolate ourselves — at least, that’s how I feel. But in times that you feel lonely, or maybe you just don’t want to be alone, know that you are not the only one. I’ve experienced it as well. 

It was undeniable how tough my first year in university was. Coming out of high school with the worst habits for studying led me to fail several of my classes. Little did I know that my studying habits were nothing but the tip of the iceberg. 

I was enamored with the socialite lifestyle, which allowed me to party and befriend everyone I came across. It was foolish to think that college life was about drinking, partying and nothing more. I was with friends every day and every night.

I was never alone. I never wanted to be, anyway.

That year was a time of change. I transitioned from a small community where my surroundings seldom changed to a vast environment filled with new people to meet, new experiences to feel and new opinions to hear. It was overwhelming, but being with friends and classmates helped me cope with the burden of a whole new world.

When my friends started to be busy with other plans that didn’t always include me, I sometimes found myself alone with my thoughts. 

In my times of solitude, I was accompanied by loneliness. As I spiralled downwards, the deeper I associated isolation with feelings of emptiness and sadness. This line of thinking grew as more of my friends became busy. I was not in the best mental health space.

Ana Cristina Camacho/ News Editor

It wasn’t until one of my friends asked me what was wrong that I realized something was definitely not right. That’s when the walls came tumbling down — I was in my third year of university. After what seemed like hours of endless crashing thoughts and slurred speech, she said only a few words that brought me out of a sea of unconscious reverie.

“You’ve destroyed yourself enough,” my friend said. “You can start building yourself again.”

In the midst of all these changes around me, I neglected to realize that I was also changing. There were parts of me that were the foundation for who I am. As it turns out, I was subconsciously demolishing them with a sledgehammer. It was the moment my friend asked me what was wrong that I realized I had nothing else left in me to destroy.

From then on, I focused on building myself again. That was when I found solitude in being secluded. I went on a winter hike in the northern woods with one of my friends. There was a time that he was far ahead of me, and I was alone in the middle of nowhere. I stood still, scared of my own irrational thoughts — but they never came. 

I felt at peace. 

That was when I realized that aloneness is not loneliness. A study into how adolescents view their feelings of loneliness found that they described it as a lack of emotional support paired with sadness and hopelessness. Aloneness, in contrast, is seen as a “temporary state” as opposed to a “pervasive feeling.” 

This definition helped me to differentiate when I am actually feeling lonely from the feeling of just wanting to be alone.

I recognize that my experience is personal and that others may feel different. So, if you are experiencing loneliness, don’t hesitate to seek help. Emotional support can do more than you may think. 

If you feel scared or confused as the end of your first year approaches, keep on. You will eventually find what you seek. In a world of hustle and bustle, it is easy to be overwhelmed. Other than that, there’s not much else to say than a few more words that I hope will help.

Don’t give up.

This op-ed was written by a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student and reflects the views and opinions of the writer. If you would like to write a rebuttal, please email opinions@thesheaf.com.

J.C. Balicanta Narag/ Opinions Editor

Graphic: Ana Cristina Camacho/ News Editor

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