Before entering university, I always thought that I was a joyful and optimistic person. I never had problems making friends, and on the contrary, I always considered myself to be very outgoing. But ever since I arrived here at Sciences Po, I felt the stressful rush to make friends. From day one, everybody was competing to have the most acquaintances and to form as quickly as possible the perfect friend group — to not be left alone. By the third day of the integration, it was already too late. People were not open anymore, divided into small groups in which you felt unwelcome whenever you tried to talk to one of its members. This rush and competition continued after the integration week, taking other forms. Indeed, there is still competition everywhere. We are too numerous. Therefore, we need to fight for friends, for classes, for associations, or simply to get tickets for an event. 

Speaking of associations, I would like to express my disappointment. Before entering Sciences Po, when I pictured my life here through the school website. I was faced with endless possibilities of associations, in order to carry on my different interests and meet people with the same passions. But reality hit me fast enough. Entering an association was even harder than being admitted to Sciences Po. You had to be the funniest, the prettiest, the most outgoing, the best speaker, the craziest, the most stylish, the most confident. My dream slowly shattered after each new rejection. Was I not good enough? Was I not worthy? Was I not friendly enough? What could I have done differently? When I thought I could pursue my interests at Sciences Po, that the competition ended the moment I got accepted, I could not have been further from the truth. This life I had dreamed of was reserved to an “elite” I did apparently not belong to. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not entirely alone. On the contrary, from an external point of view, you could think that I know a lot of people. I am invited to some parties. I have friends in each of my classes. I have some very close friends, but knowing many individual people does not make you feel less lonely. I have not found a real “friend group” as I had pictured it, when I was dreaming of my college life. Most of my Sciences Po friends have groups of their own, in which I do not feel welcome, as if, for their other friends, I am an intruder, having arrived too late in the year to be worthy of their company.

Maybe my situation has also something to do with the distance from my friends and family, who all stayed in my home region. I feel homesick, jealous of those who can go home every weekend if they feel like it, of those who have the chance to escape this city sometimes. I do not feel at home anywhere anymore. When I am in Reims, I feel stuck, as if I do not belong here; but when I go back home, the same feeling remains once I realize nobody waited for me, that they all have a life of their own, a life in which I only play a role from afar, through a few texts and phone calls. I am jealous of their ability to carry on with their happy lives, building themselves new homes, while I was not able to do the same for myself. 

I know that my situation is not terrible or hopeless, but I cannot help but feel lonely. I cannot be alone without putting on music or videos, scared that in facing silence, I will be forced to think about my situation over and over again. Same goes with going to sleep. I go to sleep later and later every night, hoping that I will fall asleep right away and not cry myself to sleep. 

I hope that this testimony can help some students, who may recognize themselves in part of my explanations, to understand that they are not alone, that not everybody is on the popular side of this campus, attending three events a day and going on trips every holiday. On the other hand, having moments of weakness is not something to be ashamed of. Going to college, living alone, leaving your friends, family, and sometimes even your country and culture, is hard for everyone. Some handle it well, some handle it badly and cope with it the hard way. It is no wonder that between 2022 and 2023 in France, 43 percent of 18 to 24 year-olds were subject to anxiety, and that a fourth of them admitted having suicidal thoughts. 

It is not because you are at your “dream university,” in a nice place, with nice people, with food in your fridge and heating in your flat that you necessarily escape the sad reality of loneliness. It is not because everybody seems to be perfectly happy on their aesthetic Instagram accounts that they are satisfied with their life. We all may think that we are not enough sometimes, that we are not strong enough to face the challenges of early adulthood and the hardships of student life.

I am deeply sorry about my poor writing style and the general sadness of this article. I still have not found the solution to get out of this situation. As I write these lines I already feel better. It is famously known that we should express our distress, but sadly rarely applied. I, myself, keep most of this sadness to myself, to not worry those dear to my heart. But who knows, maybe I will find the secret of happiness someday, and if so, I will make sure to write a new article to share with you my techniques. Student life is a scam for many. It is okay to feel lonely.

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