The greatest challenge that commuters face everywhere, especially if you attend a highly residential university like I do.
Since I have discussed loneliness at length before, I’m not going to mention why commuter students tend to be a more isolated bunch than others, but rather, I’m going to provide a single solution to curing such a disposition.
Think about it. You are a commuter student. All of your high school friends are busy/away at school. You know people in your classes, but they are not really your friends – just a few of the many acquaintances you meet throughout life. You see them in class, chat for a few minutes before it begins, say good-bye at the end of the period, and that is it.
College is a transformational experience for many people, commuter students included. For example, the moment I traveled to campus on the first day of classes, it struck me that a majority of people I had considered to be “friends” in high school – weren’t really friends at all. The fact that I had spent a lot of time with them only masked the fact that they were really acquaintances in disguise.
It disheartened me greatly that I realized that I never had any truly good friends in my life – and the fact that I commuted to school was going to make it even more impossible for me to find true friends there. Which became the case.
In college, I have tried both successfully and unsuccessfully – to reach out to others, be it fellow classmates, professors during office hours, even the campus cops/janitorial staff. Oftentimes, my efforts came to nothing. Eventually, I gave up. I still chatted with professors and fellow students whenever possible, but I realized that my limited presence on campus and lack of facetime outside of class limited my social appeal to others. It’s all perfectly understandable.
Yes, be aware of how alone you truly are is terrifying. But at the same time, I advise that you do not allow the issue to dominate your life, because college doesn’t last forever, and if you have any ounce of social skills whatsoever, you will make good friends. Be it at a workplace or on your own in the future.
So thus, instead of focusing on how lonely you are, put those energies into a personal passion or hobby. For me, it’s video games. I spend a great deal of time playing video games, chatting with people online about them, and while interaction with people over the Internet is far less satisfying than facetime with others, it still alleviates some of the pressure.
Additionally, if you are a pre-professional student like me (for example, I am studying accounting at the moment and hope to make it to the Big Four, if possible), focus on your future and how you will achieve your dreams. Because, naturally, the future is worth far more than the present (after all, this is why you are in college, right?)
In case you didn’t read the above, the gist is this: No one cares about how lonely you are, and you shouldn’t either. Your passions, your future, and your dreams are worth ten times the attention. As for good, lifetime friends, the time will come eventually.