Is this another taboo word I've found here? When was the last time you heard someone admit that they were lonely? Not recently right? Well you wouldn't would you, telling a friend that you're lonely can be a bit like saying "You're a bad friend and not making me happy enough." Or maybe that's just me.
Know that being lonely, does not mean that you're alone. It's possible to be lonely in a crowded room, so don't ever think that it's just you. The popular girl might be feeling more alone than you are! Life is full of change, and sometimes that makes us lonely and it happens to each and every one of us. No exceptions. I promise.
Ask yourself, "Why am I lonely?"
Treating the cause and not the symptoms is the only way forward. Have you just been through a break-up, fallen out with a friend, moved to a new place? Or perhaps its nothing that obvious, nothing has visibly changed in your life and yet you're still feeling alone.
Working out what it is that you are lacking is only going to help you solve things. Twice in the past year, I've felt destitutely lonely. Yes, I used the word destitute. Once was because I'd moved back in with my parents to save money, was a good half hour drive from anyone I knew and when browsing my Blackberry's phonebook - there wasn't one person I trusted enough to call and say all of this to.
On the other occasion, I was living with a boy I loved more than anything in the world, I had some great friends that I could have just walked down the road to visit if I'd wanted and I had a decent job with co-workers I liked. So what's up?
In retrospect, I didn't have a huge amount in common with any of the people in my life, and so keeping these friendships afloat meant I was only utilising a small part of my personality. It was like I was putting on an act in order to fit it and that was exhausting. I was lonely because I was isolating myself. By not being completely honest with the people that had let me into their lives, I wasn't really letting them into mine and felt the effects of that every waking moment.
Another thing which I feel really contributed to my loneliness was that I let some of my best friendships slide through not putting the effort into staying in touch. Life can be very simple, and in my opinion we can very easily complicate things.
In both these cases however, and I'd like to think in all cases on loneliness, you are by no means helpless - and there are loads of things you can do to get yourself out of it.
- Be Happy Alone. No, really - this is a valid point. Some of us are naturally much more independent than others, but make sure that your most important relationship is there and is thriving. And that's your relationship with you! It's the one you're in for life, as they do say - and if you're not happy with your own company then you're in for a hard time of things. Solitude isn't the worst thing in the world, in fact in can be one of the best.
- Be Aware. Are your current relationships making you lonely, or is it the lack of them? If the people in your life are not making you happy anymore, be honest about why that is. Have you changed and now need different things? Have you been neglecting your friendships, or are you being neglected? If you don't know what's wrong - you can't fix it. Once you are aware, it's easy to tell whether you need to spending more or else less time with the people in your life to make yourself happier.
- Do Something Different. It's one of my favourite motivational quotes, and it goes: "If you always do what you've always done - you'll always have what you've always had." And it makes perfect sense. You have to do something different if you want things to change. Start going places you wouldn't normally, strike up a conversation with that nice girl that's also browsing the Travel section in the library. Visit a friend that's gone away to University and get to know the new people in their life. There isn't room for being shy in life when there' so much to do.
- Don't let yourself miss out, and tell yourself that every time you nearly turn down an opportunity.
Some more practical things you can do to help kick loneliness to the curb:
- Get involved with blogging. Of course, you already do that because you're here! But so many of us start off in this online community as an observer, a reader but as soon as you start commenting and build relationships with these people, you're no longer just a lurker, you're an integral part of it all!
- If you miss someone, for gods sake just call them. Tell them. If that means you have to apologise, beg for forgiveness, or put some more effort into visiting someone that lives an hour away just do it. If you feel that person is meant to be in your life it's worth it right?
- Keep in touch with the people you know - listen, and ask questions, get to know them better.
- If you find yourself to be lacking something, go searching for it!
- Do the things you always did. This is especially important if you have just lost a friend or partner. If you give up doing the things you did together, you're letting yourself lose a much larger chunk of your life than you have to.
- Get a pet. What better excuse to get a kitten. Personally, I don't need an excuse apart from the cuteness and fluffiness.
- Get off Facebook. No, really. Spending evenings looking at how much fun everyone else is apparently having will not help. Deactivate your account for a while.
How do you deal with loneliness? Is there something in particular you do that makes you feel a little more at peace? Comment away!
I'd love to know if any of these tips have been helpful to you.