The loneliness epidemic is a real thing.
I came across this article from The Cut today called “7 Therapists on What to Do When You Feel Lonely” by Cari Romm, and I immediately knew wanted to respond to it for a #TWBT post.
As the only child of my parents, I spent a lot of time feeling lonely in my 23.9 years. At age 3, I basically begged my mom to put me in a preschool program so I could be around other kids. I remember sitting at the dinner table by myself some days while my mom made dinner just staring into space. I look back on those moments now and realize how lucky I am to have had an imagination. I would have died of boredom.
But my imagination could only take me so far. I would sometimes get really antsy with boredom. My mom will tell you how annoyed she’d get when I uttered the words “I’m bored.” I also had a habit of sighing a lot because of said boredom, to which my mom would ask, “What’s wrong?” My response? You guessed it—“I’m bored.”
I read a lot as a kid. My library card was my best friend, because it gave me access to a world of story characters I could get to know on a personal level. Even though I made friends at school, I still had lonely weekends and summers, so I escaped into fiction most of the time to get out of my lonely funk.
As an adult, I have roommates, so I’m not lonely that often. The people I’ve lived with and currently live with have pets, which are always fun to have around if you’re prone to feeling lonely, as the article mentions.
One of the therapists in the article suggests making small talk with strangers during daily tasks like shopping at the grocery store and getting coffee. I’m not sure that’s really an option for socially awkward loners, though. As an ambivert, I can’t even make small talk on a good day sometimes, much less look the Starbucks barista in the eye when I spell out my name for them. It takes a lot of guts for some people to talk to strangers, so I’m not sure that suggestion would work well for everyone.
Another suggestion in the article is to get comfortable with your own company. I feel like this is super important. This is how I got through most of my periods of loneliness without going completely insane. I read books, took myself to a movie once since none of my friends were in town when I wanted to see it, danced around my room like a crazy lady (I still do this quite often), etc. You can have all the friends in the world and still feel lonely at times, so it is very important to get used to being your own company.
Forcing yourself into social situations also helps, as another therapist suggests. Joining a book club, community sports team, etc. can help you find people you’ll probably have a lot in common with. Since you’ll most likely be seeing people in said club or team multiple weeks in a row, you’ll have time to muster up the courage to talk to some of the members and perhaps make plans to meet with them outside of the club’s meeting times.
A suggestion that really stood out to me in the article is finding a personal interest to get involved in. I’m gonna be real here—I probably would still feel lonely a lot of the time if I didn’t have this blog. I start to relapse every now and then when I haven’t written a blog post for a while. Finding fulfilling hobbies is essential to learning how to be content with your own company. I used to overthink so many things when I felt lonely because my brain had nothing else to chew on. Keeping yourself busy with something fun really helps.