I am the shadow in the back corner of the dining hall. I am the ghost in your classroom, the unseen presence at any function offering free pizza. I am the ninja of the library and the reason you think visiting high schoolers are constantly getting lost and winding up in your dorm. I am that which is never seen at parties. I am the sword in the darkness, the watcher on the walls…oh wait, sorry, that last part isn’t me, that’s Jon Snow, my imaginary boyfriend. My bad. Anyway, what I am is a collegiate loner.
I didn’t plan on it, but there seemed to be a six-week friend-making window at this school and I blew it in a number of ways. I’ve come to the conclusion that this just isn’t the college for me, but until I figure out what “the college for me” is, I’m stuck. I sincerely hope none of y’all wind up like me, but if you do, here are some tips:
1. If you don’t have friends, have what I call a “designated partner” in each class. This is someone who understands that if the professor says “find a partner” or “get into groups of [number]” they are to pick you along with whoever else. This should also be someone who can lend you notes, tell you what you missed, and help you cram before a test by making up elaborate metaphors comparing philosophers to various groups around campus (Buddha=art majors, Confucius=women’s studies majors, Marcus Aurelius=pre-ministerials, etc.)
2. Have a personal schedule. Going from class to class or to work is a given, it’s all that time in-between that causes problems. So every day, examine what you need to get done, and plan out when you can do it. Do you have a free hour and a half in between your first class and work? Tell yourself you’re going to finish that paper. Are you done for the day after 5:30? Plan out what you’re going to do with your evening (e.g.waste time on internet until 6, dinner until whenever, homework until Bones comes on, more homework and then bed after House). This will keep you so busy you don’t have time to sit around awkwardly staring at the wall wondering what’s wrong with you.
3. Save your sulking for your iPod. Being a loner is bad enough; you don’t want to unload on anyone who might happen to strike up a conversation with you. When you’re feeling down, turn on the saddest, whiniest music you can find, plug those earbuds in, lay down, and pretend to be napping. For bonus points turn off the lights and pull up the blankets. That way your roommate and her gaggle of friends will have to be quiet and/or leave.
4. Find something resembling a social outlet. Going three days straight without a conversation of any kind with anyone is a good way to drive yourself crazy. Find a safe chatroom, text your old friends, call your mom, whatever—make it a point to communicate with someone in some way every day.
5. Always, Always, ALWAYS have reading material on hand. This is useful not only for lulls in class, but that awkward pre-class period most people spend socializing, not to mention mealtimes. Just eating by yourself is lonely and depressing—but eating with Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones is hilarious and awesome.
6. Technology is your friend. It offers relief from boredom, an excuse to not be talking to anyone, and, at times, camaraderie (through e-mail and such; you didn’t think I was completely insane did you?).
7. Get out of your room. I’m serious. Go to any open-to-all social event (e.g. spring carnivals, Halloween parties sponsored by the bookstore, club fairs, anything offering free pizza). Hike up to the nearest convenience store for an emergency Chips Ahoy run, whatever, just get out of there before your roommate starts to think you’re some kind of dorm gremlin.
8. Avoid frat parties, house parties, and dances. Those things are not designed for everyone, no matter what they say. They’re designed for groups of friends. Show up stag and you’d better be prepared to glue yourself to the wall holding an empty solo cup wondering if you look cool and mysterious yet.
9. Don’t give in to the awkwardness. Do whatever you need to in order to keep your social skills polished. That way when someone from English asks “Did you do that poetry analysis?” you’ll respond with a proud “Yep, turned it in five minutes before the link closed. Procrastination ftw” instead of saying “Winter is coming” because the only conversation you had recently was with Robb Stark, in your head.
10. Do stuff you love. Join clubs, start a blog, become the next Madame Curie. Do whatever it is that makes you happy as often as you can. I like to write, so I write goofy SparkLife posts, work on my novel, write synopses for other stories I might possibly write someday, and I’m on staff for the school newspaper. Find whatever it is you like to do and get to it, as long as what you like to do isn’t destructive to anyone or anything (including you).
11. Decorate your room. Your dorm room is your sanctuary, might as well make it look good. Buy posters proclaiming your interests in order to remind yourself that you’re not boring. Always wanted a lighted mirror? Some string lights, an extension cord, and a couple of command hooks and you’re golden (so what if they’re “meant for outdoor use”, you’re a rebel!). Screw boring “normal” desk lamps; get that cool one with the sequins! Invest in a few crazy pens. If you find it attractive and it won’t cause permanent damage to the walls or furniture, go for it.
12. Don’t feel defective. If you’ve done your best to make friends and it didn’t pan out, then hey, you did your best. All you can do now is make the best of your loner-ness, or transfer. Remember, there’s a difference between choosing to be a loner and hating yourself because you’re a friendless loser. Sometimes you can change things, other times life just tosses stuff in your lap and there’s nothing you can do but turn it into something that doesn’t suck as much.
13. Don’t be embarrassed to be alive. This is a toughie, particularly for anyone with the sort of personality that lends itself to loner-ness. But the only thing worse than being a loner is being uncomfortable in your own skin, while being a loner. Invest in some confidence pants. Look in the mirror every day and tell yourself you’re awesome, and if people would just look up from their iPhones for ten seconds they would see it. Keep saying that until you believe it.
Post by dac213!
I can't even begin to tell you butts how much I love these tips. I was really lonely my freshman year college, and I wish I'd had a post like this to let me know there was nothing wrong with me, and that other kids were going through the same thing! Are you a college loner too? How do you deal with it?