...is right about now for me. As an atheist going to a small Christian college, lately I've been feeling a mixture of loneliness, frustration, and a bit of hopelessness. I'm lonely because I can't connect with anyone on a real level without coming out as an atheist, which has shown to make people avoid me, which leads me to be frustrated because it's not like I can put up posters for an atheist club or group or freethinkers meeting or anything to meet like-minded people here, which has lead me to feel utterly hopeless that I'll ever find anyone to really connect with here that won't shun me in the end :( 

The easiest solution to this problem would obviously be to not go to a small Christian college next year, possibly even dropping out now to save money and heartache. Unfortunately it's not all that simple :/ This school has fantastic opportunities for internships and study-abroad trips, it has all the courses and programs that I'm interested in/need for my degree, and I'm getting a really good (if slightly biased) education.  I really enjoy being able to think critically about the Christian-perspective on (literally) everything, and I've had some really interesting talks about religion and science, sex and relationships, and perspectives on god's "grace" and "mercifulness" etc., with my RA. She's been one of three people to accept my atheism and respect me without acting all weird and evasive of my company. There are two girls on my floor who know about me, and ever since they found out they have been less welcoming towards me. It's not like they're being mean or unfriendly, but there is this tenseness I get from them now that wasn't there before :(  

Two years ago I would have been fine being alone, since I was a lot more introverted back then than I am now. However I've changed into a person that needs support and strong connections with people in order to function happily. I'm an extroverted introvert. I've tried my very best to be friendly and outgoing to everyone so that I can make friends and do some networking, but it's mentally exhausting for me to do this, and I'm just about at my emotional limit. Essentially, if I don't find some kind of support-group of friends (even just one person to whom I can go to to connect with) I'm going to shut down my attempts at connecting with people and just rely on only myself. And I really don't want to do that. I'm terribly conflicted :(

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Comment by Simon Bennett on February 20, 2012 at 4:06pm

konnichiwa Taylor-san. This may sound like a weak suggestion, could you satisfy your social yearns through a digital medium? I hope that it doesn't sound as though I'm speaking out of turn, quite recently myself I have had to go through a deep depression, to feel terrible for a number of days so that I could come out the other side and realise that life's not so bad after all. 

At my workplace and within my family I often feel as though I cannot speak my mind. On the internet however I find like minded people with whom I can have intelligent and meaningful conversation. 

You might find with the two girls on the same floor that it is merely a lack of communication between you guys that is causing the tenseness. You could try opening up a dialogue by offering an olive branch, you could bake something to share. They may have pre-conceived attitudes towards atheists - not towards you specifically. 

Sorry if I'm not much help. 

Comment by Street Atheist on February 20, 2012 at 5:31pm

A tough situation ... I'd certainly echo Simon's comment about potentially fulfilling social requirements through digital medium - where you can no doubts find millions of like minded individuals.

That being said ... I'd sincerely hope that there are some decent folks amongst the population there that are able to maintain a friendship with someone despite having differences in beliefs (or lack of).

Hang in there Taylor  <3

Comment by Gabriela Menicucci on February 20, 2012 at 7:59pm

What has worked for me is to set aside my atheism, draw a line between ideals and relationships. Yes, sometimes it feels frivolous not to connect with others on that level, however that doesn't mean we can't connect on other aspects. Granted, it's the best feeling in the world when ideals are shared, but this won't be the case 99% of times, specially while being an atheist in a christian zone.

Try to focus on factual similarities rather than on philosophical differences, it will set the fundaments for a good friendship. Try to keep conversations on subjects that are generic, and don't try to go into deep waters with them, most people can't handle religious subjects (due to their lack of free thinking) and will build an imaginary void to distance themselves of what they perseive as "threatining".

Once you have gained their trust, you can try to talk about more serious subjects, or keep it bannal and just enjoy the company for what it is, a worst-is-being-alone-type-of company.

And finally meet atheists online, maybe you find someone in your area and can meet up for coffee. You never know. I thought there were no atheists in my area and with facebook I have found a bunch.

Wish you the best, ciao ciao.

Comment by Taylor Campbell on February 20, 2012 at 9:47pm

Thank you all! Your comments have made me feel a lot better :) I'm taking all your advice to heart, especially about making like-minded friends here on the web to keep me company (and to keep me from going insane). Haha, I have a feeling that I'm going to be ranting a lot on this site about my classes (especially my biology class, and possibly tidbits from my religion class). 

I hope everyone had a good Monday :D

Comment by Thinking Enigma on February 27, 2012 at 5:35pm

As an atheist in the exact same situation, my advice would be to start coming out if you can (obviously, getting out is ideal, but you might not be in a position to leave. I'm not for sure). There are a number of advantages. First, you will feel much freer and you will be able to be more honest with people. I have found that even at a heavily fundamentalist Christian university, there are very few people who are not understanding if you are honest with them. At my school, of the several dozen people that know (probably more than that, but who's counting), only two of them come at me with religion regularly, and even then, it's not hateful, just annoying (the poor naive idealists think that they can convert me with Chick tracts and materials from Kent Hovind and Ken Ham. I don't think they've figured out that it's not going to work yet. In some ways, it's almost kind of humorous). The other big advantage is that you will probably find other like-minded people. The problem with being in your position is that you nearly always feel isolated. I can almost guarantee that there is at least one other atheist there, if not more. My school has a student body of around 4000. Of these, I know maybe 200-250. By the end of first semester, I had managed to find 12 other atheist/agnostics, just by being open with people. I'm not shouting it off the rooftops, but I'm not hiding it either. If it comes up in conversation, I just clearly state my opinions. Obviously you might not be able to do the same due to extenuating circumstances, but unless you go to a school like Bob Jones, you shouldn't have to worry about repercussions from the school. They most likely cannot afford the shit storm that would be caused by kicking you out or for suppressing you for merely identifying as an atheist (ah, the wonders of the blogosphere and alternative media), and in many cases, the staff will probably be very understanding.

I hope everything works out for you.



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