Spare a moment

| Niels ter Meer

With the vacation fast approaching and loneliness still a big problem, student columnist Niels ter Meer hopes we’ll perhaps spare a moment to reach out to that friend, colleague, or acquaintance you haven’t spoken to in a while.


With a week and three days to go, the vacation is fast approaching. For a lot of people, it is a time and cause to get together with friends, family, and their loved ones. Away from campus, to recharge and remember what we do it all for. But that temporary exodus has some graver consequences for some. While most of us retreat, we leave some behind, alone.

That’s not to say we abandon them literally; loneliness is more of an inconspicuous predator. These people might seem at first face like they’re doing fine, they do their work and act normally. But every day they put on a mask, act as if nothing is wrong, but behind that veil, they might feel a vast emptiness. With everyone here still, they’re still supported in some sense with a chat here and there; with everyone gone, that won’t be the case.

Loneliness was also one of the things touched upon in the recently released report on student well-being. With lockdowns seemingly behind us and even though the metric has dropped slightly, still 62% of students report loneliness. To me, that seems like a lot. There are many reasons as to why people might be lonely.  Their partner might have left them, or they might be a first generation and/or international student. They might just be a tad introverted, with only a few friends, who are all too busy — or themselves crying in the fetal position under their desks.

Last week, colleague columnist Femke Nijboer wrote about us succumbing to zeal. Here at the UT, that happens directly. But in our zeal to leave for our loved ones, we risk forgetting about these people. At the UT, we’re all busy people, and we continue that into our vacations — just with different things.

So in the spirit of this vacation, spare a moment to reach out to that friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, that acquaintance you don’t see often, or that colleague on the other side of the wall. Just a small moment, just to let them know that they’re not entirely alone, just to ask how they’re doing — letting them know that at least they’re in someone’s thoughts. You might be doing more good than you think.

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