A Message To Those Who Are Feeling Lonely

We won't feel so compelled to join the rat race as we're traveling our own unique path.

lonely woman Gang Zhou / Getty Images

By Candice Zhang

I remember sitting down with a classmate during a break at work. She was an international student from Iran and was curious about the North American education system.

There was one thing she mentioned that stood out to me.

“In a developed country, I don’t understand why everyone here is so lonely,” she said.

I asked her what she meant.

“I’ve been to other places, and everyone seems much happier, even if the quality of life is supposedly lower,” she told me. She then paused for a second, “But everyone seems so lonely here.”


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Her words struck me because I’ve never related to anything more.

Since I was a teenager, I’ve always wanted companionship. I would message my friends on social media and bombard them with questions just to keep myself entertained. I never understood why I acted this way until I realized that it was because I felt forlorn.


Nowadays, many young adults are feeling this way too.

According to Eden Project Communities, Gen Z is the loneliest generation. A survey showed that 19% of 16- to 24-year-olds said that they were frequently lonely, whereas only 6% of 65- to 74-year-olds said that they felt lonely.

This may be due to the increase in technology, along with work and academic stressors. Because of social media, it seems that we’re all striving for instant gratification and glamorous lives. We all want to flash our accomplishments in front of others because we were told to seek validation.

But I never understood why we acted this way. That is, until I realized that our culture prides itself on individualism, a concept that rewards individuals who are seemingly ahead of the corporate rat race. It’s awful, but we all get sucked into it because we’re engrained to do so.


School tells us to get good marks, university applications force us to apply for uninteresting extracurricular activities, and Instagram pressures us to find our own friend groups just for the sake of selfies.

When we are pressured to do all this, we feel that we are missing many parts of ourselves.

We don’t know what we like anymore. But we do what is needed to get ahead. We are all trapped in our own time machines, journeying along the path that society built for us without observing the surroundings.

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We forge friendships, force ourselves to study a certain program, and pressure ourselves to excel in whatever activities we put our minds to. But the more we do this, the more we realize that we’re walking away from our own interests. We don’t know what’s important to us anymore, and if we do, we feel that our interests won’t be valued.


So, when you feel lonely, you know that you’re missing something important in your life, whether it’s valued friendships or other opportunities. Hence, you try to change your life around.

When you’re seeking opportunities, you try different activities. You try to make it work as much as possible to combat the feeling of loneliness. You think that if you determine what you like, you’ll find value and comfort in what you do.

And when it comes to friends, you tell yourself that you’ll find your social circle. You assure yourself that the friends you deserve won’t leave you and the rest aren’t meant for you. You know that this process is challenging, but you also know that there are people out there who care about you.

But what if nothing works in the short term? Then, it’s time to realize that it’s alright to be alone at times.


We all need some peace to clear our heads and realize what’s best for us sometimes. With so much going on, it’ll be distracting to focus without taking a break. But if we’re alone, we can discover more about ourselves when the clock ticks.

When we’re alone, we won’t feel so compelled to join the rat race as we’re traveling our own unique path.

So, when my colleague finished talking, I answered. “Yeah, it’s because of grind culture,” I said. “Maybe if we take a step back from the hustle, we’ll feel less lonely and have more time to discover who we and our peers are.”


“I agree,” she replied.

“However, it’s also okay to find time for yourself, especially if there’s too much going on,” I explained. “We’ll feel less lonely in this chaotic world if that’s the case.”

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Candice Zhang is a writer who focuses on relationships, health and wellness, and current events. Her work has been featured in Unwritten, Her Campus, The Strand, and others.