Being Lonely After Graduating and Overcoming the Constant Feeling of Loneliness
In this Column written by Niskala H. Utami, one of the participants in our internship program, she writes about the loneliness that surrounds the life of a fresh graduate.
Words by Whiteboard Journal
Some time in the middle of college I couldn’t wait to graduate. I had plans to get a job, move out, and save enough money for a master’s degree. What I didn’t anticipate was how lonely it actually is.
I was halfway in my last semester when the pandemic hit and my campus was forced to close. The last time I saw my friends before lockdown, we just finished our last midterm and decided to eat celebratory sushi. We didn’t think that it was going to be the last time we would see each other in a long time. As online classes started, our defense soon arrived and, of course, it was done online.
Last semester a lot of my friends had their defense. I waited for them in front of the door and when they came out, I hugged and congratulated them. During my defense, I showered thirty minutes before and I was wearing short pants, and none of my friends were in front of my door waiting to hug me. I did receive a lot of messages but it just doesn’t feel the same. Before I knew it, senior year was over and I didn’t even get a chance to properly say goodbye to my friends and classmates.
As the days pass, I’m more consumed by the overwhelming desire for human contact. My friends and I try to keep contact, but some of them already went back home or are too busy with work. We all have to move on from college and prepare to enter “the industry”. I did the same, but once in a while I caught myself missing them. I would send a meme in the group chat but no one replied, or I would chat someone but won’t receive a reply until really late. My friends and I made plans that we were going to travel somewhere together after we graduate, but due to the pandemic the plan was postponed. Now, I’m not sure if we’ll even be close by the time everything is back to “normal”. Sometimes, I question how our friendship will survive later. I know I’m not entitled to their time or attention, but due to the nature of the lockdown and self-isolation, I yearn for more human interactions.
Turns out, I’m not the only one experiencing this problem.
“My days only consist of going to work, coming home and making supper and sitting on the couch all evening exhausted from the day. I don’t hear from any of my “friends” anymore. Weekends are spent catching up on house chores and exercising. Does anyone else feel like 23 is just a weird age?”
“I’m 32 and it doesn’t get any better. Sorry man, it honestly gets worse”
“I just hit 20 a few months ago…I’m noticing a lot of my friends drifting away with other life priorities, they call me less and less.”
Hmm… do I even want to get old? I know there’s some freedom and autonomy that comes with adulthood, but at what cost? Would I have to deal with this loneliness for the rest of my life? As I try to find other answers, I see how some people are trying to give a positive outlook.
“Getting into the twenties is supposed to be really hard psychologically, lots of things change. Just remember that change brings good things as well as bad.”
“force yourself out of your comfort zone whenever you can. Talk to someone you wouldn’t normally talk to. The more you branch out the more you will realize that there is always an ability to make connections and develop friendships no matter your position in life.”
“You go contact those old friends or join a club or anything. Find a hobby. Source: am a PhD student who was the same back during my MA.”
I’m torn between the two. On one hand, I’m still young and I still believe that things will be better one way or the other. On the other hand, this feeling of loneliness still lingers within me.
Right now, I blame the pandemic for feeling like this, but is it really because of the pandemic or is this something inevitable?
Desperate to overcome this feeling, I tried to get into a new hobby and get a job as a distraction and hoping to meet new people. I enjoy the hobby and the work itself, but it’s still a challenge to connect with people, and that’s mostly because everything is done online. At first, I gave some effort, but it’s rather hard to do through a screen. I personally need physical interactions to form a bond with people. I’m not particularly an extrovert, but it’s easier for me to see their body language so I can adjust the way I talk to them. Now, my only interaction is through a screen and when their camera’s off, it’s like they’re not there. Maybe some introvert somewhere is loving this situation and I wish I could be that introvert.
I want to form real connections, not just acquaintances.
So where do I go from here? Honestly, I don’t know. I do know that I don’t want to feel like this forever. Right now, I can only continue with my life, to focus on myself and work. And in the meantime, I still want to try and maintain my friendship and form new relationships.
Maybe in a few years I’ll write an update article when I’m less lonely and how I managed to overcome it.