The antidote to loneliness
It’s a feeling that we experience every now and then — for everyone who does feel this right now reading this, I just want to let you know, you are not alone.
For whatever reason and whatever situation you are in, this is a hard feeling to shake off and it can easily lead to a downhill spiral if not addressed i.e. loneliness -> feeling depressed -> staying indoors by yourself -> more loneliness -> even more depressed.
I for one want to tell you a story of my own loneliness and what I found helped in order to help those around me who are experiencing the same.
To begin, I am currently living in London and have been for the last two and a half years. I grew up in Australia and so that is where my family and friends are. I am seeing someone who was raised here and has family here and we have been dating for the last one and a half years.
I recently visited Sydney and visited my family and friends. It was such a good feeling to be with them and to be able to have a catch up like old times. Coming back to London has been hard and on the first few days back (whether that be because of jetlag etc), I had felt isolated and homesick.
It was meeting up with my Aussie friends and another Aussie friend that had recently moved across, that I realised the following:
- Whilst it is difficult being vulnerable, it is so important to be vulnerable. Share any feelings and thoughts to the people around you e.g. saying to a person, “I am finding it difficult to make friends and build long term relationships’’ is an okay admission and doesn’t make you less of a person — don’t let your ego / pride get in the way of admitting how you feel / think. We are all human and facing these difficulties is all but normal. It all comes down to mutual respect — if they belittle you for your admission, then you don’t need to give respect back to them.
- Don’t assume, but be open minded. You can get in your head easily. These obstacles in our head whilst may seem very real are our preconceptions. In reality, the preconceptions may not be as they seem so you should at least be open minded about it and say yes. For example, being open minded about going to watch a boxing match at a sports bar. I had the preconception that I wouldn’t necessarily be interested, but I actually really enjoyed it in the end.
- Establish your boundaries and your views in a non-judgemental way e.g. aside from the fact that I wasn’t sure if I would be interested in watching the fight, a limitation in my head was that if I wasn’t going to drink alcohol, I wouldn’t be welcome, be liked or relate to them. Not drinking alcohol does not mean any of those things. We relate to people not just with our similarities but with our differences — it’s what makes people interesting! We need to take care of ourselves first and so we need to make sure we communicate what we need in a way that we still respect their views. As an adult, if they don’t respect your boundaries or views, then you don’t need to respect theirs either. Remember that.
- Pay it forward and do so without expectation for any return (although the caveat for this is that you should stop doing this if the person is abusing your kindness / taking you for granted) — I have felt lonely and will feel lonely going forward but people have helped me along the way when I didn’t have the answer, so it is important I help back others who are experiencing the same. There are generally also mutual benefits from doing so — a stronger sense of connection with the person, future opportunities etc. When I first landed, my friend Michelle met up with me for tea and made me feel that I was not alone. She extended her hand in helping me and made me feel secure during the first few weeks on arrival. Ever since then, we have become close friends and have had a stronger connection than ever before.