It’s OK To Be Lonely

For students working extra hard to maintain social distancing guidelines, it’s been really difficult to build friendships. 

Let’s admit it: Zoom meetings aren’t the most ideal way to make friends.

It’s hard to create a real connection over video chats. This has left myself and several other freshmen I’ve talked to in a rather sticky situation. We’re trying our hardest to keep ourselves and others safe, but it comes at a cost. Almost all of the items on the metaphorical freshmen experience to-do list aren’t meant to be done alone, much less off campus.

When keeping safety as a top priority, here’s a few things to keep in mind. At the top of this list, remember not to be so hard on yourself. You’ve heard it countless times, but here it is another time: we’re in unprecedented times.

It’s most important to stay safe, stay healthy, and stay focused.

If you’re struggling to do much outside of that, it is perfectly OK; dealing with protecting yourself from COVID-19 is a mentally and physically draining experience. It’s important to avoid spreading yourself too thin in order to keep your priorities and health in balance. 

With this in mind, avoid beating yourself up over a struggle to form friendships. I’ve joined several different types of group chats and RSOs and have met plenty of great people but haven’t sparked many friendships out of these meetings. I’ve really struggled with coming to terms with the fact that this is not only OK, but a pretty common feeling among my first-year peers. 

Another thing to keep in mind this semester is to not let the lack of companionship keep you from attending events and going on adventures. Part of going to college is developing this independence and self-reliance, and what better time to develop these skills than now!

There are still plenty of socially distant ways to make memories and spend your time on campus.

Every day I carve out an hour of time to take a walk in a new area of campus. Not only am I exploring parts of campus I normally would get to see, but the fresh air and exercise is great for my mental health! 

It’s absolutely vital that we create a safe and healthy environment on campus.

That being said, don’t let your year fly by you! Make memories doing things you feel the safest doing.

Take advantage of the events available to you. Come out to the movie and concert nights at Memorial, take that scenic walk to a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try, or catch a couple rides on the CUMTD to get the hang of it! There’s an extensive list of activities you can independently try out while in the process of making friends (safely, of course!). We have to make the most of the situation we’re in, regardless of what it may look like. 



Class of 2024
I’m a social work major with a passion for people and the betterment of society. Listening to my friends share their experiences sparked my love for the University of Illinois, so I can’t wait to share my own with prospective and incoming students!

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