The bridge to beating loneliness

September 27 2015

I am a 21-year old student, majoring English Language & Culture.

At primary school I was a normal, albeit quiet kid and I had friends.
But those were what I missed when I moved on to secondary school. I just did not fit in. I never made any friends there for seven years. I was always alone on some bench during the breaks and never saw anyone during the holidays. I do not think anyone ever noticed how unhappy I was with this. The teachers seemed to incorrectly presume I preferred to be and work alone.
When I finally got my diploma, I went to university and had a marvellous introductory week. I had finally made friends. In my first year, I saw them regularly. In the second and third year, it slowly melted away again. There was a nice board game night every now and then, but that was about it. Last year, I spent most evenings alone and sometimes even cried because of my lack of contact. I hope this academic year is going to be better socially.

One of my salvations has been a Dutch game forum I joined in 2009. In its pleasant online environment I could unleash all my sadness and frustration at the off topic parts of the forum and people would always be extremely supportive. Still, I was extremely hesitant to go and meet people I knew there. I had met single members twice for only five minutes, years ago, and both meetings were extremely awkward. Then, March this year, one member did really want to meet me (and vice versa) and he travelled all the way to my city to meet me. I had never been so nervous in my life, but the moment I looked him in the eyes I knew there was nothing to be afraid of.
Last summer, I finally went to an entire week’s holiday just with members of the forum and, well, I now think it was probably the best week of my life. I regret not going to any forum meetings much earlier, but I couldn’t be happier to be ‘let in’ so easily.

Lastly, I’d like to tell you about the sport I practice. Bridge. I know what you’re thinking; that’s for old ladies, right? Well, not just. Old ladies practice it as a pleasant activity, while younger players like me see it as a sport. I’ve been a member of my local bridge club since 2008. Me and my then bridge partner were the only youth members of the club back then. Luckily, the number of youth players has risen (actually in the whole country) since then so we’re not alone anymore. I practice bridge as a serious sport, and last November we miraculously became Dutch National Youth Team champions. But it has brought me many more things, including a bit of social contact. The other youth players are all nice guys although I am not sure whether I can consider them my friends, almost never seeing them outside of the playing rooms.

- Need a new hobby or sport, and do you like games in general? Try bridge. You won’t regret it. I can advise you.

- If I think I have a friend, I am never certain whether that person feels the same and how we can do things together. I mostly not dare to ask them. If you think you have a really good piece of advice for anything, please be my guest. How do you define friendship?

[email protected]
Nijmegen, Netherlands

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