Student loneliness is revealed as experience if we think about the student essence: we procrastinate like hell. Every student, without exception, has procrastinated and will continue to do so absolutely remorsefully.
There are a lot of students. Some of them say the same prayer as you every night. Some of these students wish they were dead. Some of them are wrong, They aren’t really in love. Others are. Some of us conform to the “ivory tower” aesthetic — the mile high club. Each of these students procrastinates. The difference between them is how.
This difference isn’t actually all that huge. We procrastinate, chiefly, by binging on social interaction — though this interaction itself is really unnatural. I would say unsatisfying, but this is a matter of so much more. We go to the bars, but remain thirstier than ever for social connection. It’s as if our hangovers have nothing to do with liquor. Think of it this way: what one procrastinates doing is what one is truly passionate of, or in need of — like water. It’s something one can go without, but not for long without hurting and eventually dying. You always make time for water, and you have to, whether consciously or not. There’s a fundamental, quiet deprivation working alongside us, one that lots of us never quite replenish: loneliness.
Day in and out we wear our GPA™ goggles, which restricts vision to the symbol “A,” plus or minus. Taking these off once a week is a lot of fun. There are perceptive, funny, animated and beautiful people around you. It feels great to get down to Earth occasionally, but not too much. Your principal concern remains your grades, so going out again on Saturday, you tell yourself, is procrastination.
Nobody says, out loud, that you don’t have time to be a human being if you want success. It just turns out that getting As requires a monk-like fidelity to your course load. Finding a job you love will be near impossible without said As and a real social life might tragically blow the opportunity your parents worked so hard to set out for you, which is literally the only thing you know for sure you never wanted to do. So we all crack at night like mishandled eggs who never had a shot and leak and leak to sleep.
So what happens is you binge. You have one day, one night, a few hours to recharge. And the bars know this. They know that you need effective liquor cheaply and fast. The result is so called “Red Light, Green Light” parties. These are parties in which pleasure is made so economical, so effortless, that one wonders if this is IRL. Social interaction, in other words, has been rendered into radically accessible entertainment — a structure similar to the easiness of television, something that, while requiring minimal effort on the part of the viewer, delivers pleasure with pure efficiency. Sometimes we need this easiness. But actual social interaction requires work and time — more than we’re allotted weekly — and often discomfort and embarrassment and self-confrontation. On the smoky and torn, alcohol-soaked battlefield that is your post-turnt mind, dread stands as the often only survivor those Sundays. The body lacks hydration, but also something else. A few weeks of this and the tank becomes less than empty. The lack of some unknown thing turns into a substantial antigen, emptiness goes on offence mid-October, and the tragedy is that you only did what you’re supposed to: try.
Loneliness is non-essential to student life. This means it can be changed. This literally requires that we work together.
Think about your small, private victories: that A-; weekly Opa subsidized by Tuesday’s tips; flawless spatio-temporal coincidence between you and the LRT; getting to class that extra minute early during which the bathroom remains a sanctuary; or the glimpse of that person MWF, who isn’t yet consciously decided as your crush, walking into lecture hall as you walk out.
It’s easy to think that these victories are a jewel that you alone carry, hidden in your pocket. Really, though, we all walk with these joys. We all in fact share a campus, a lifestyle, and a passion. The same holds for our blunders and pains: we frequently ask stupid questions, we frequently cry over grades, we frequently give what feels like far too many shits. Yet, we remain protective in the totalitarian bodily fear that what if opening up to share means opening up to be stolen from. Sometimes this turns out to be the case, but when we agreed to love, we agreed to these terms which, love will tell you, are non-negotiable.