Lonely and Disconnected

Question:

I arrived at college yesterday and am staying in a dorm. We all live in single rooms. Even though it’s my second day here and I have made a few friends from the same floor, I still feel so lonely and disconnected from everything. There’s about 20 people on my floor, and the majority of those people seem to have banded together, and I feel like I’ve been left on the fringes. For the friends that I have made, I feel like we’re not really quite gelling together that well. I know it’s only the second day, and it might just be that I’m feeling tired and I didn’t get much sleep last night, But I feel really hollow and like I don’t belong. It’s not like I feel homesick, just a bit alienated. The fact that a large proportion have bonded and always seem friendly and talkative to each other makes it worse. A few times already, the people on my floor have sat around the living area of our floor with only the really outgoing people talking to each other, and bantering back and forth. I feel like I’m a more small groups, one-on-one type of person, and when large crowds just sit and talk like that I feel like I can’t get a word in edgeways and I just sort of shut down. I never expected to feel like this, and for it to be this hard. I’m scared that it’s going to be like this for the rest of the year. Even for the 2 or 3 friends that I have sort of made, it still doesn’t feel completely right and I just can’t see me being close friends, or friends I want to hang out with all the time. I feel a bit lost, to be honest. Do you have any advice?

Phyllis replied:

OK, so you’ve been there about a day and a half.  If you had emailed me that you had made two really good friends, I would find that very, very exceptional.  My guess is that at LEAST half of those girls are feeling more like you do, even if they seem outgoing and happy.  When a whole bunch of people are thrown together, it takes time to sort them out, talking to them in line in the cafeteria, before a class, watching TV, or one-on-one. Give yourself time to know them individually, and see which ones you want to hang out with and get to know better.  But as soon as possible, join a club, an activity, a team–anything where a group is focusing on something other than trying hard to find friends. The number one best way to make good friends or find a place you “belong” is through a mutual interest or activity, where you are all focusing on doing something together,exploring something, attending something, reading something, competing at something…. Just sitting in a roomful of people “hoping to make friends” can be deadly, whereas being in a play together, or singing in a group, or volunteering for a campaign, or discussing a book are all opportunities to become friends who share the same interests or values or personality as you do.

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