There is a difference between being lonely and feeling lonely. I can remember the President of my college playing the song by Kathy Mattea "Standing Knee Deep in a River, Dying of Thirst" during Freshman Orientation. He was making the point that we were all surrounded by potential friendships, but that it was up to us to seize the opportunities to grow them. Not one person in that crowd was alone- but, according to data from a 1990 Gallup poll, approximately 1 in every 5 of us felt lonely (1). Loneliness can be defined in two different ways. The first definition: “A state of solitude or being alone” (2) was certainly not the case as we stood shoulder to shoulder eagerly waiting to embark on all that college entailed. The second definition: "not necessarily about being alone...[rather] the perception of being alone and isolated" (2) is, in my opinion, the most devastating definition of the two. For, as we all felt the sting of separation from our loved ones, having recently waived goodbye to our families until our first Holiday break, at least twenty percent of us stood there feeling very, very lonely.
If that didn't tug at your heartstrings, this will.
(2) Loneliness: A disease? Indian J Psychiatry. 2013 Oct-Dec; 55(4): 320–322.