When You’re Surrounded By People, But You’re More Alone Than Ever

I had just left my University’s football game, surrounded by thousands of people, when something bad happened. I started to think.

It was a lonely, isolating thought that immediately shifted my mood from fun loving to soul crushing. No – it wasn’t about poverty or genocide or inequality or death. It was about friendship.

I started to question what my friendships were consisted of and how I was fostering that. And then it became very obvious to me that while I certainly have a select few friends whom I share actual substance with, the majority of my interactions end up feeling hollow or superficial upon inspection. Too often, I find myself making time for friends only when it’s “convenient,” and vice versa. Too often, I feel that I can share a meal with many but share my thoughts with none. Too often, I question the integrity and the weight behind my relationships. Suddenly, in a world that I’ve built up for myself for the last 3 years, I felt very, very alone.

When I walk out of the gate to my campus for the last time, who will I still cherish? And with whom will I grow after we’ve left the place that brought us together?

I went to bed that night just needing to collect my thoughts. And the next day, I decided to share them. With my former adviser… with all of my roommates individually…. with my family…. If it’s a rut that I’m in, sharing my words will be my ladder.

And to my honest surprise, every single person to whom I expressed my concerns felt the exact same way. That one conversation, whether it lasted 10 minutes or over an hour, brought me closer to each of those friends, even without my intention! One of my friends expressed that she went through this sort of “growing pain” last year, and had to actively remind herself how lucky she was to have her small handful of tight-knit friends. Another friend exclaimed her frustration with how selfish people can become when they get “busy,” herself included. Our society thrives on a culture of DOING DOING DOING, where if you’re not busy then something is wrong with you. But that busyness comes at a cost – no longer can you slow down and tend to the simmering friendships. I’m beyond guilty of this, too. “Hey Allie! Can you grab lunch?” “Ahh I wish, but I am just SO SWAMPED! Thesis proposals and case writeups and now, ya know, job interviews! But I promise we’ll see each other ASAP!!!” I can’t tell you the number of times that exact interaction has played out via text.

So really, my loneliness is partially a product of my own doing. I’ve created this environment for myself where my time is first and foremost allocated to my “whats,” and then to my “whos.” How awful.

I was (guiltily) relieved that others had experienced my same sentiments. And then I made an effort to reach out to the people who I truly treasure – just to let them know that I appreciated them. My goal this semester is not to get a cushy corporate job or finish my thesis with honors. My goal is to break down the barriers that I’ve created and engage with the people around me in a truly fulfilling way. You people are the reason why I love this life so much – let me prove it to you. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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