The newness and excitement of being away at college might be wearing off as you enter the second half of your fall semester. You may find yourself thinking about your family, your friends, or your hometown. Or you could be wondering if you have found new friends yet. Fall semester loneliness can be a normal experience and this devotional will look at how to manage feelings of loneliness in college.
In This Devotional:
Everyone Gets Lonely
Even if you have been constantly surrounded by new people and you are making new friends, feeling lonely is normal. You don’t have to physically be by yourself to feel a sense of loneliness. Loneliness can be felt when you are around people you don’t feel truly connected to or when you miss that sense of familiarity that you had at home. Loneliness is not an uncommon feeling. Many college students get lonely around this time of year. It's not unusual to not quite feel at home while on campus or to feel like you don’t belong with the people you have met.
College is about learning independence and you might be alone more than you are comfortable with. This is part of adjusting to college life and it something every college student experiences. The fall semester can be the toughest because of the because of the difficulty some students face when adjusting to life away from home after the summer.
How To Deal With Loneliness in College
It helps to know that you are not the only person to be dealing with loneliness in college. Other ways to deal with these feelings of loneliness during your fall semester include:
- Create a sense of home: Feeling lonely at this point in the semester may have a lot to do with feeling homesick and missing the space you felt most comfortable in. Put up photos of hometown friends, family and pets to create a space that feels more like home. You could even ask your family or friends to send you things that could remind you of happy times at home.
- Embrace the signs of growth: There will be new friends and new connections that you make. Before growth and change, you will likely miss the people and places you are used to and you could feel lonely without them. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing and could instead be a sign that you are growing to become a more independent individual.
- Connect to loved ones: Stay in touch with your emotional needs at this time. Reach out when you are struggling with loneliness. Call your parents, hometown friends or your siblings. Find connection and don’t be afraid to share your struggles with those who love you.
- Faith that negative emotions are temporary: Emotions and feelings are temporary and what God gives our souls is real and lasting. Deep and meaningful relational connections with family and friends are going to be lasting and nourishing to our souls. Negative emotions can lessen over time when we stay committed to personal growth and know that lasting joy comes from those intangible moments with people we love.
- Embrace this time alone: You might wish that you could just hurry up and find your new best friends, or a lasting relationship, or that group that you find purpose in. These are all good things that God wants us to experience. One day, you may have all kinds of connections and may be constantly surrounded by others. Time alone before then can give you the opportunity to discover more about yourself.
Feeling Lonely Versus Being Alone
God is always with us so we are never truly alone. We may fight feelings of loneliness and really miss our loved ones when they aren’t around, but that doesn’t mean we are completely alone. God sees us and understands our pain. He is a “father to the fatherless” and we can know he is there to provide for our relational needs if we trust him.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families… – Psalm 68:5-6a, NIV
Know that there are people who enjoy your presence, who enjoy spending time with you, and value your company, even if they aren’t with you right now. God can bring new people to you who will become some of your closest connections and trusting that he has a plan can help you to not feel alone. Finding where you belong in college is not something that happens overnight and it requires effort over time. You are learning more about yourself and this will help you find where God already knows you belong.
The end of fall semester can be hard if you find yourself missing your family and friends, or feeling homesick as the holiday season approaches. The Office of Student Affairs at Grand Canyon University can provide you with community resources on campus to bridge the gap and ease your feelings of loneliness.
Approved by the local outreach coordinator of Spiritual Life on Oct. 5, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.