Students of Erasmus are afraid of being alone?
“People today are impossible to scare.” This is a sentence I’m sure most of us are familiar with. The world is currently of the opinion that our generation is so desensitised by the movies we watch and the video games we play that nothing gets our hearts racing anymore. Is this really the truth? A recent census from Vice found that the answer to this question is no, and that there is in fact something that most of us are terrified of: loneliness.
The study asked several people to disclose what they were most afraid of; the most common answer turned out to be: “being alone and never finding love.” This trumped losing parents and being in the middle of a terrorist attack. So, the big question is, is this really the truth for most of us? To figure this out, I decided to ask the students of Erasmus the same question: “What are you most afraid of?”
Instagram: love isn’t everything?
After some awkward conversations on campus and a few Instagram polls, I have an answer, and it is not loneliness. In fact, most Erasmus students claimed that being alone did not scare them at all and I often heard the phrase “love isn’t everything” or “being afraid of not finding love is irrational.” Erasmus students instead claimed to be much more logical than this, and were more afraid of wasting their lives or losing those close to them. So that’s it? We’re all strong independent individuals who don’t need love?
I think this is something we would all like to believe is the whole truth. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is. It occurred to me during my various, uncomfortable, highly sober interviews on campus that there was no reason that anyone should tell me the ugly truth. So I decided to give them a reason. And that reason, was alcohol.
I decided to interview students who had had a few drinks, to find out if they would still be as logical and unromantic as their peers after losing their inhibitions. The answer may not surprise you; they weren’t.
Exposing the truth through tipsy interviews
The majority of tipsy students confessed that being alone and never finding love did, in fact, scare them more than anything else. Now I know there are debates about whether or not what is said while one is full of liquid courage is the deep seated truth or if it really is just the tequila talking. There is sufficient proof to say that a drink or two does in fact make a person more honest and open to expressing their emotions. This is due to the reduction of negative affect (the process whereby negative feelings such as guilt or embarrassment are lessened) although, it might not be considered by all to be an exact science.
If this is indeed the truth, it poses an interesting thought. We all want to believe that love is not important to us. We all want to be happy or successful or live interesting lives and not give our love lives as much thought as our parents did. But deep down, we’re all still scared of being alone. Under our cold, hard candy shells that want to be independent and successful, there’s a soft centre that just wants to be loved.
Is it bad that we’re all closet romantics?
Our generation is known to be cynical about love. We grew up in an era when having divorced parents was as common as having blue eyes. We have all the information at our fingertips and we don’t want to be disappointed by anyone. It makes perfect sense why we would all want to live without love. But what the Vice study (and my drunken rendition) proves is that we are not as cynical as we think we are. We don’t want to be alone; we just don’t want to be disappointed. People often refer to our generation as people who no longer believe in love, but I don’t think that’s true.
I think that our generation has higher standards for love than our predecessors. We want forever. We don’t want to look for the first person who will say “I do” like the generations before us did. We want to live interesting, independent lives and then, when the time is right, we want a love that finds us.