Many of the readers may have experienced university themselves or know someone who has. Quite frankly, university is not only a challenging academic route, but making friends is difficult too especially if your peers are not in the same institution or program. Through the many months of vigorous studying and feeling isolated by the walls of your room, the idea of loneliness may arise. Why do we feel lonely? Is there a certain personality trait that reduces our ability to be more social? Does our environment have an effect on how active we participate in group friendships? Whether it is our personality or our social surroundings, the power of friendship has many effective traits that will enable our overall development.
Empathy can be viewed in two forms: cognitive and emotional. The balance of empathy may be connected with narcissism and one’s personality. That is, the individual may be a great source of entertainment and is favourable to associate with, however their attention to other people’s needs can make those around them feel lonely when they are not alone (Brenner, 2017). According to literature reviewed by Di Pierro et al. (2017), there was a general agreement from clinical and diagnostic theories that narcissism was associated with reduced emotional empathy. The instability of sense of self in narcissism can be an abyss with minimal awareness of its existence. The need for self-reflection is to maintain one’s self-esteem. However, it can be considered draining on the individual and others as priority is given to the self; this may push valuable relationships into destructive cycles of envy and competition, or neediness and abuse (Brenner, 2017). For reasons that friendship is an important factor for self-development, peers converse on an interpersonal level which allows for both parties to further discuss subjects other than themselves.
Exposure to high social environments integrate into our lives by reducing mortality rates, and enables a better state of mental health (Seeman, 1996). That is, social interaction has beneficial physiological effects on post myocardial infarction (heart attack) prognosis than those who are isolated. Social interaction is stimulated by social networking, reciprocity, and norms and mutual trust. These forms of social activity have positive influence on mental health and overall longevity (Seeman, 1996; Bourdieu, 1986; Putman, 2000). In other words, having any form of communication with people is good for one’s life expectancy. Furthermore, having peers present also decreases the stressors that one might have to experience through such as in times of studying for final exams, or having to manage with roommate problems. To have the ability to reciprocate and trust a friend also has a comforting effect to the individual knowing that someone is there for them emotionally.
For many people who consider themselves as introverts, they may explain that it is difficult to make friends in a highly-populated environment. The anxiety of being rejected by potential peers can defer one from approaching anyone. Here is a friendly reminder; people may seem intimidating to converse with, but in a university setting, many people are interested in meeting as many people as they can. You are a resilient person, and you are loved! Friendships can form rapidly even from a casual conversation to the person next to you in a lecture hall. Do not just assume nobody wants to talk to you, many people have an interest in what you want to say too. Simply, start the conversation with, “hi”.