Isolation & Loneliness at University
Ayla is 21-years-old and is studying Screenwriting and Film Studies. Her favourite poet is Sylvia Plath. Ayla decided to get involved with Student Life to share her thoughts in a hope that they will inspire others.
Isolation and loneliness can manifest quickly in an academic environment. When the rush of exams, assignments, and deadlines is over you can be at a loose end. If you live in university accommodation, or commute, feelings of loneliness can intensify, especially if your flatmates or friends return home or go on holiday.
I have always enjoyed my own company, but I feel pangs of loneliness as soon as the semester finishes. As someone who has commuted to and from university for almost three years, there have been times when I have felt cut-off from my peers, particularly during the summer break. There are only so many books you can read, films you can watch, and walks you can go on before you become sick of your own company! The prospect of having no work to do unnerves me because my mind starts wandering. The anxieties come creeping back. You’ll wonder why your friends haven’t messaged you asking to hang out; you’ll see people you know on grad schemes or summer jobs and you’ll think you should be doing the same; you’ll sit there feeling guilty about your Netflix-binge whilst scrolling through pictures of your friends on holiday. This can accumulate and make you feel unsatisfied, anxious, and even low.
However, the most important thing is to get yourself involved with things. You might want to spend time alone, but there is only so much one person can take. Human connections are an important part of our mental health and well-being. They can help us to grow, learn, and understand more about ourselves. It is important to understand that. If you live off campus, just giving a friend or loved-one a phone call or video-chat can really boost your mood. If not that, get out there and find a society you can get involved in. Set yourself goals to complete over the summer. Connect with people who love the same things you do.
Use the time you have as an opportunity to learn new skills, reconnect, and refresh. See it as a challenge, rather than a defeat!