on friendships and loneliness after college

Friendships are vital to a happy life, yet they can often be the cause of stress, disappointment, sadness, and other negative feelings. As we become older, we may need to more consciously focus on making and maintaining friendships. Friendships often come more easily when we are younger due to the loving, trusting nature of children and the shared experience of going to school together. And while friendships have their challenges at each stage of life, after graduating college can be a particularly difficult time.

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If you have recently graduated college, you may feel pangs of loneliness every now and then. Even if you are surrounded by loving family and friends. Because, for the first time in your life, everyone isn't really on the same path anymore. Some may go straight to grad school, while others may dive into the workforce or take a year to travel. Some may be engaged or thinking about getting married while some enjoy the freedom of being single. Some may move halfway around the world or move back home and others may not move at all.

Because of these differences, it can feel challenging to relate to one another, which is often how friendships form and grow to begin with. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention how social media can make this distance seem even more insurmountable. It can make you question where you are at. "I should be traveling more." "I need to stay in more." "I need to go out more." "I need to get married and settle down." "I wish I wasn't so tied down." "I should go back to school." "Why did I go back to school?"

All of this confusion can create distance. Don't let it. Be open and honest about feelings of loneliness and feeling lost. I know when I have, I have not only received great encouragement, but also reassurance that I'm not alone in feeling alone. True friendships may have a basis of shared experience (i.e. attending the same school), but there's a lot more to them than that. True friendship will bridge the gap of the two paths you are on, if you're willing to do the work to build it.

Guess what. Everyone at this age is confused and a little bit lonely. (If you are not, that is wonderful and also plz share your secrets). We are truly out on our own for the first time with little to no direction. No one is there to say you have to take these classes, and here are the extra-curriculars to pick from, and you will graduate in four years. The world is at your feet, which is amazing, but also scary. It is completely up to you to decide the direction you will take, but it is hard not to sneak a peek at what path someone else is taking and feel like it might be better. But when you start focusing on someone else's choices, you won't be able to focus on the path you are making. Appreciate what others are doing, but don't let it interfere with what you're working towards. (Definitely use it as inspiration, though, if it interests you!) 

Bottom line(s): You are not alone. You don't have to have it all figured out. Don't let important friendships grow apart just because you are not on the same path anymore. Go out there and do your thing! And if you don't know what your thing is yet, go out and do something. You'll find your way.

Can you relate to feelings of loneliness after graduating college?