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Diary of a Future Psychologist, ep. 1: “Feeling Less Lonely”

Hello hello. I’m writing from my favorite Mexican vegetarian restaurant (and probably the only one of its kind). It’s romantic. Just me, my journal, and an eagerly anticipated vegan quesadilla with guac on the side. Which brings me to today’s entry: let’s talk about loneliness.

Ever since having covid-19, I haven’t seen very many people, despite testing negative for a while now. Part of that is because I’ve been busy. I’m juggling two practicum sites. My former site picked an incredible staff (I say as a biased member of said staff). Meanwhile, at my current site, we have two interns, neither of which I know that well yet. Transitioning into a new workplace made me realize how much I miss the bond with the former interns.

So, I started to feel lonely, and not in the healthy solitude sense. More so in the brooding teenage sense. Fortunately, I’m a problem solver. As psychologists, we get this kind of issue sometimes. The client presents with anxiety– because their boss is awful. They’re depressed– because their girlfriend is cheating on them. Or, in my case: I’m sad– because I haven’t been socializing. Yes, you could use an intervention, such as some guided imagery for the anxious client, or maybe logo therapy for the depressed one. But instead of coping with the symptoms, you should address the cause. Maybe the client could weigh the pros and cons of leaving that mean boss, or saying hasta la vista to the cheater. In my case, rather than telling myself to “exercise more” or “thrift my little heart out“, I could address the cause of my sadness: feeling lonely.

This morning, I woke up determined. I made a list of people to reach out to. Afterward, I did loneliness cure #2: picking group settings. Basically, if there’s anything that can be done alone OR in a group, I opt for the group. For example, why study alone when you can study in a library or coffee shop? Why exercise alone when you can take a group class? To follow cure #2, I found a coffee shop near me.

I looked around and realized that not one table was open. Instead, a seat was available next to several different people. Here were my options:

Table 1: a tall man in printed flamingo shorts, analyzing a film.

Table 2: a tall (let’s face it, I think everyone is tall) red-haired girl with freckles, a welcoming smile, and one of the BEST outfits I’ve seen in public. She looked like she walked straight off of Pinterest and into this coffee shop.

Anyway, no contest. I was going to be sitting at her table. I immediately complimented her outfit and asked about the types of places she shops at. “I thrift mostly,” she said.

“Me, too!” I responded, full of enthusiasm. I remembered my little loneliness problem and decided to do something out of my comfort zone– I asked if she wanted to go thrifting together sometime. She said yes, absolutely, and we exchanged phone numbers.

Me, overdressed for the coffee shop.

That girl ended up being one of four people that I made plans with. Afterward, I brought my sister to the library, where we did even more work.

The combination of being social, getting work done, and later helping my sister with an assignment were all things that made me feel less lonely. My mood lifted and I did indeed feel better. I’m not saying that “operation social” was instantly solved, but I put effort in. And with friendships, that’s what counts.

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Hi everyone! I started my doctorate in clinical psychology in fall 2020. A google search revealed that there are no current grad school blogs for psychology students. Anyway, I happen to know a girl who wants to document her journey to getting a doctorate (spoiler: it's me). Welcome. Hope you stay awhile!

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