Important Takeaways from Loneliness & Solitude Class

March 24, 2020

As we as a community and as a nation are practicing social distancing, we will be isolated and lonely in our own spaces.  Even though we may be isolating with family, we may feel even more aware of not seeing our friends and colleagues daily, face-to-face.

Technology can help us to a point, but it isn’t a substitute for physical presence. According to my advisees, communicating now in the time of social distancing can be “tiring” and even a burden. One advisee remarked, “It's fun to text when it's not the only way to see friends.”

Last semester, 18 courageous students and I embarked on an investigation of Loneliness and Solitude in American Literature and Society. We read memoirs, studies, essays, and stories about how humans are all affected by loneliness. We guided the Downstairs Kindergarten in a creative drama activity that had us connecting with them in a meaningful way. We visited Northampton County Prison to consider loneliness in isolation and incarceration. We listened to mental health experts about the differences between depression and chronic loneliness, we practiced meditation every S Day (our Solitude Day), and we journeyed to Jacobsburg Park at the beginning of January with Reset Outdoors to experience the kind of Solitude that only nature can provide.  

For their final projects, the Loneliness/Solitude class investigated topics of their choice; there were movies, podcasts, zines, and presentations that all centered around the students’ interests. Meghan Connors '20 made a zine which focused on “Loneliness in Relationships.”

I invite you to read her zine and consider her advice she has for those who are feeling lonely right now:

“I would love to tell everyone to get outside. Whether that's to go for a walk, read a book, or just sit and be in the fresh air is sometimes what we need but don't realize we need it. Setting aside 5-10 minutes a day can boost your overall being in a better mood by so much. So go for a walk with your dog or lay in the grass, whatever you find is the best way to push you to go outside.”


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