I could hear the tears in her voice: “Mom, I’m so lonely! I don’t know anyone here!” My heart ached for her, but I knew urging her to get out and ‘make friends’ would only add to her introverted angst. Instead, I reminded her to embrace the solitude; to relish the quiet times alone for reading, studying, painting. I assured her that relationships would bloom in time and helped her recall that time alone didn’t necessarily translate to loneliness.
New research published in Motivation and Emotion examines this very issue of social connectedness for new college students. The research encompassed two separate studies in the US and Canada, which included 370 first-year college students. Despite reports of disconnection in the new environment, those with a mindset of embracing solitude reported better psychological health, self-esteem and behavioral regulation.
As kids move from the relative security of high school and summertime at home to the unknown realm of college life, the transition can spark feelings of relational disconnect and loneliness. Turns out, students who reported lower social connectedness still benefitted from an autonomous pursuit of solitude. Loneliness in these first weeks away at college? Turn that into a mindset of purposeful solitude, and reap the rewards!
Check out the original research: