Being alone isn’t all bad. There are some days where you’re totally content being on your own. As an introvert and homebody, I find comfort in alone time where I can do my thing. I can watch youtube videos, journal, doodle, and lay around- all of my favorite things to do. I don’t feel lonely at all during these times.
I feel lonely when I feel like I can’t connect with others in a genuine and meaningful way. It’s like this ache to spill whatever is in my mind or heart at the moment but there’s no one there I can do that with. That’s when I feel so lonely.
We’re all human, and we crave special deep human interactions. We need to nourish relationships that are meaningful and special to us.
As someone in my early 20’s, I think it’s especially important to nourish friendships. This is something that we were so familiar with when we were younger and in school most of the time, but now as new “adults” it’s harder to nourish constantly.
Once you graduate from high school or college, it’s up to you to put aside time to connect and bond with others. As someone who went to university pretty far away from my home town, it’s hard for me to physically see most of my friends since they live all far from me (my closest friends are an hour drive away).
This has been a pretty constant thing with me ever since graduating last summer. I have one friend who is so nice to me and constantly checks up on me and invites me places, and I think I’ve always taken advantage of that. I never reciprocate planning because she’s so good at it- and now I see how tiring it is for her since she hasn’t been doing it as much.
It’s hard to admit that I might not be the greatest friend out there. I keep learning and re-learning that I expect a lot from friends and family but I don’t necessarily constantly give them the same effort that I expect.
Life is a journey of learning.
Reaching out to friends is almost like a muscle I have to work on. It takes effort! And usually I hate putting in effort, and now with covid putting an even greater strain on how we reach out to each other, it’s evident how lazy I’ve been with reaching out to my friends.
Of course reaching out is hard, but someone has to do it.
This feeling of loneliness has been joined with the recent weather change as well. It’s kind of gloomy outside finally (it’s literally the end of October and it JUST started getting cloudy), and I think a twinge of seasonal depression might be kicking in.
I just crave being able to be with my friends in an easy manner. Even when I hang out with the two high school friends I have now…I feel like there’s a slight strain. Like we’re almost fully connecting- but not really.
This disconnect has to do with how vulnerable I’m letting myself be. I’ve been pretty guarded and secretive with everything. I never disclose how I’m really feeling, what I’m doing on my free time, and just my current state in general. Your friends can’t be vulnerable and open with you if you’re guarded. That wall will always be up.
Being vulnerable with friends is something that I really want to work on. Especially now since we’re not able to see each other as much, the quality of friendship is especially important.
To show my level of vulnerability with my friends, I have never cried in front of my friends, but all my friends have cried in front of me. (Sure a handful of them were drunk sometimes but hey- I can’t even cry when drunk????)
–Oh god I want to cry but I’m in my kitchen and that would suck if I cried in front of my family.–
It’s a very lonely place to be when you’re not comfortable enough to tell your friends that you’re feeling lonely, pathetic, sad, stuck…etc. One of the reasons I feel that way is that nothing in my life is necessarily “bad enough” for me to feel all those things. And while logically it’s understandable to feel all those emotions because we’re human beings, it feels selfish to ruminate in those feelings and emotions when I’m in a much better state in general than my friends.
Like my mind goes “ah you live at home and you don’t have to worry about rent or anything scary in your life, there’s really no reason for you to feel the things your feeling“.
It’s such an empty feeling when you feel like you’re not allowed to feel those types of emotions, and when you can’t even talk to someone close to you to discuss those emotions. It’s very isolating.
Overall, I think climbing out of loneliness is a lot of work internally, as well as externally.
You’re the one who is going to have to be comfortable enough in your own skin to speak your truth to the ones closest to you.
You’re the one who is going to have to reach out to the ones who mean the most to you. You need to check up on them and see if they’re doing okay too.
You’re the one who is going to have to chip away the walls between you and your loved ones, or if you don’t have people with those types of relationships, you’ll have to seek them out.
In our eyes, it seems unfair that we have to do “all the work”. The truth is, if people around you are being vulnerable and open, but you’re not, it’s going to be hard to reciprocate or acknowledge that openness. You won’t see the fact that people around you are trying.
And if the people around are really not trying which is very possible, it’s still your job to seek out others who will put in the same effort as you.
Just some gentle reminders:
Sometimes friends or family can be in different stages of life where they can’t be there for you 100%. I was really mad at my friend for not giving me enough time and attention one year, but she was going through so much personally. I was adding stress and negativity into her life rather than being an understanding friend and giving her space and a shoulder to lean on if needed. Learn to see the difference between people who don’t care, and people who do not have the capacityto care in the moment even if they really really want to.
Don’t chase after constant happiness. Just be content and understand emotions and feelings will change which is normal. The urge to get rid of feelings of loneliness and sadness can be overwhelming. We might wonder why we can’t just stay happy. We were fine last week, we finally have parts of our live together, why can’t we just stay happy? Because we’re human lol. It’s okay to feel this weird pang of loneliness this month, and feel totally on top of the world the next week then crash again the next day. Learn to be understanding of yourself. This might take a lifetime.
Nothing will change if you don’t put in any effort. Currently, I’m…not that happy with how I’ve been connecting with others, but simply whining about it won’t change anything. I need to work on my communication skills, my honesty, and reaching out. I’m lonely because I’m also keeping myself in this box. It will take effort and time, but I’ll try my best to work on it. I’ll also understand that even if I put in effort, we can’t get rid of feelings of loneliness 100%. We will have to feel it every once in a while. But I know I want to improve my relationships with everyone. I do.
As we navigate these turbulent times, it can feel so lonely and isolating. Don’t try to push these feelings down. Just acknowledge them, and then try to keep going on with the motions of life. Yes, I feel lonely right now, but that’s okay. I can work on it, and I can keep living on.
Our early 20’s is so confusing. We’re trying to focus on ourselves and try to find what we want to do with our lives, but we also have to balance on creating deeper relationships with the people who will be in our lives for a long time. We’re slowly trying to learn how to be adults at such different paces. Some of my friends are completely independent, while others like me feel like we’re in high school again because we live at home and still depend on our family financially.
I guess overall, just try your best, don’t be so hard on yourself, and check up on others too. That’s all.
May your loneliness slowly dissipate through time, and hopefully you’ll find a balance where you can be content most of them time (even with rough patches).