Feeling lonely? You are not alone!

22. November 2014 | von

Has the excitement that hit you at the beginning of the semester started to linger? After a year or so, do university, Aachen or Germany seem to be something different than those places you admired so much? Why do all people seem to be always in a rush? Does anybody notice you? Do they care? If you have felt that way, let me tell you: you are not alone.

My previous entries have been about lighter subjects, I´ve tried to keep it simple and maybe funny, but here I want to address a particular issue that many students face: loneliness.

Being alone and feeling lonely are different things and the difference between them may draw the line between being able to find yourself and totally losing your way. This is just a number of lines to tell you: you are not alone! No matter how dark it seems, no matter how far you think you have fallen, no matter how long ago you stopped walking… you will always find a friendly hand, a reason to move on, a place to feel safe and warm. I have no idea about psychology, I do not claim to know what is right or wrong, I just know I´ve been there and it was not easy.

In this world where we are expected to be productive, to excel and become the best versions of ourselves… we are usually not given a plan that shows how to get there. The problem is, being told that you need to be at the top is not enough! The top of what? The top where? I used to share with my students a story about a man who wanted to reach the top of the highest mountain, he wanted to do it all by himself and would climb as fast as he could because being higher than everyone was all that mattered. So he bought all the necessary equipment, he trained, then set up his mind and body and finally started to walk. He reached the mountain and started to climb, it was not easy but he had trained, he had the best equipment, he knew he would make it, and he certainly did. He reached the top… except he had chosen the wrong mountain.

See the problem? If you don´t know what your destination is, any road can take you there. Wanting something is not enough, making your best is not enough, you have to know what it is that you want, but we hear over and over that success, reaching the top, being the first is all that matters. If I hate what I study or my job, it does not matter if I´m the best, I will still be miserable and quite probably will not even try. That does not mean one´s failed, that maybe simply means one´s not found the right path. All that pressure may make you think that you are wasting your time and effort, but even when you do what you don´t want to, even then you can learn about the things you do want.

Being miles away from home can hit you hard and make you lose balance, suddenly everything you knew and took for granted seems to be part of the past. Places and faces are so unfamiliar that you feel the whole world turn while you stay still. So many people in a hurry, wherever are they going? What do they want? Trying to go on can be difficult, sure, but feeling sorry for yourself will only make you fall deeper and remember that, no matter what the outcome is, life is your gift! Your time and what you do with it is your responsibility and you can and deserve to be happy! Is there any better way to live?

Maybe all those strangers, all those people you just met are feeling like you, maybe they have lived similar things, maybe they share your thoughts, your loneliness and all they need is a word to open up and show their concerns are as real as yours. Sometimes we fight to stay where we are, sometimes we fight to be able to leave and the thing is, we might need just a little shore where we can set foot, a place where we can be ourselves and hold on as tight as we can. Don´t be afraid to talk, don´t feel like it´s wrong to feel bad, you are not alone! That romantic loneliness movies try to sell is as fake as unnatural, there´s no delight in being miserable, people don´t fall in love with the lone wolf because he´s always quiet and misterious, it takes character and bravery to show who you really are and what you are made of… and it is quite probable that nobody will come to that lonely guy to ask if he´s feeling fine, we just assume they are… and they wonder why nobody asks. Lives could be saved, pain could be avoided if we just opened up our hearts to say we´re hurt, to ask if that guy at the corner is doing fine… but we need to produce, we need to run and be part of the system before it leaves us behind.

If you feel the need to talk, take a moment to visit your relatives or friends if you can. If you think professional help is what can make the difference, RWTH offers that service and it is mostly free of charge, I leave you a link here. Please, talk, get help… you might think nobody´s there for you, but trust me, if you look around and give people a chance, you will notice that you are not alone! I cannot repeat it enough. It is fine to be sad, it is part of our lives… but so are happiness and hope.

Maybe I am simplifying things, but I guess I don´t know any better.



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