On Loneliness

One of my friends asked me if I feel lonely in law school. I paused for a long while before I replied “Sometimes.”

Studying is a solitary experience. So much of law school is just me and my books: reading, outlining, or writing. Study groups are good, but those are not really conducive to forming good friendships.

Another reality is that I am on the older end of the spectrum (I will turn 28 in May.) While this is not an impediment to connecting with my classmates, I do sometimes feel out of place. Of course, I also have more substantial relationships from my life before school, so it can feel lonely because I miss those friendships.

But I do believe that everyone feels lonely at times. Loneliness is not just a matter of social connectedness, but is an orientation of the heart. If I orient myself towards my own feelings of disconnectedness, I can become despondent and filled with self-pity. I find that when I stop focusing on my loneliness and give myself to compassion, to an act of service or a friendly conversation or a simple smile, I lose my loneliness in connecting with others. This doesn’t mean pretending; I can be honest about feeling lonely. But if I fixate upon it, it can overtake my vision for my relationships.

I do feel lonely at times, but that doesn’t mean that I am alone here. I have learned to acknowledge that feeling but not live by it.

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