A Lonely Generation Passionate For Relationship

By Kiera Colson


Our blog today was authored by Kiera Colson. Kiera is a 19-year-old sophomore at Lee University and was an intern with us at Growing Leaders this past summer. Kiera is a brilliant young leader who is passionate about seeing her generation grow into their highest potential.


A two-week surprise vacation turned into a two-year realization for the rising generations. 


We live in a world where being alone is now the new normal. It can be easy to believe that it is simpler to ride life solo than with others. Through smart devices, a world where the disconnected became connected and the connected became disconnected slowly merged into reality. The Pandemic of 2020 launched the (likely unavoidable) global epidemic of loneliness into existence.


I am one of those teens who faced the time of the pandemic in an era where we were supposed to be going to prom, leading Student Council rallies, and having the same after-school jobs with all our friends. 


Over the past two semesters of school, I interviewed 45 of my peers to gain their perspectives on the effects of the isolation period of 2020. It did not surprise me that the main ideas they voiced revolved around loneliness, connections, and relationships. Overall, it encouraged me how positive the outlook from Generation Z was. All but two of the 45 Generation Z students surveyed could cite at least one way in which they grew as a result of the pandemic and the isolation it brought on.


One of the most encouraging quotes a Generation Z student shared was, “I know that if the world shuts down, I can’t let it shut down my spirit.” I want this to frame our perspectives and outlooks on life. 


The times spent in isolation were hard. Some teens were able to face themselves and as a result gained peace, self awareness, and deeper understanding they had lacked before 2020. Others admit they were simply trying to survive, running to coping mechanisms in order to make it through the endless hours.


Having to separate from people, Generation Z has shifted their values of connection and felt their anxiety around relationships rise. They are aware artificial relationships aren’t good for them nor desirable. Yet, without having the foundational years of relationship building, they don’t know where to start. Generation Z expresses how they don’t have the “social stamina” to make friends and fear Generation Z has become a “socially handicapped generation.” The phone especially has been one tool-turned-destruction when it comes to our relationships. And Generation Z sees that. They feel the emptiness in their connections.


There is a deep, burning passion within Generation Z (one of the reasons I love my generation)—and that is the desire to put one’s “all into the relationships more than ever and not give up on them.” This generation is not focused on having lots of friends. They truly long for a few deep and meaningful relationships. And let’s be honest, don’t we all? The aching cry of a generation was represented in this Generation Z student’s quote,  “If I had a genie, my one wish would be for a best friend… someone who I can count on and someone who will count on me.” This resonated with me, as I aligned with what many of my peers were expressing. We as a generation understand the time in isolation pushed us to develop and become a new version of ourselves. Without that time, we would not be who we are today. We also understand there is still work to do, especially in our relationships.


I want to end by telling you a short story about my first year at college, to truly embark you on a journey from the pit of loneliness. My class was a bunch of freshmen walking into college during the first year in the new back to normal world. I noticed a lot of anxiety and assumptions, while at the same time desire and passion around deep, meaningful relationships. 


My best friend’s room on the hall was always the room to be in. As the fall semester turned into spring, I watched as my friend distanced himself. He was going through a difficult season. On top of that, he went from having an endless amount of guy friends he could lean on to none. It left him in a place where his room slowly went from the place to be… to empty. It was hard watching him in this season of loneliness. A month went by before the moment when I became incredibly proud of him. He shook off the fact he was lonely and turned to the truth that he was not alone. My friend started initiating gatherings like orbeez gun fights under the bell tower or study sessions in the math building. He shifted his perspective on loneliness and saw his need for others as an opportunity to connect. And as a result, his actions helped me out of my own loneliness pit. 


As leaders, I would encourage us to remind Generation Z that loneliness and aloneness are different. We all feel lonely at times, but the truth is we are never alone. We must look for chances to develop relationships. From small groups to school clubs, we must be intentional in finding and creating the opportunity to learn how to connect beyond the surface. 


A Lonely Generation Passionate For Relationship