You’re lucky that you have such great people in your life. I’ve had to learn to be alone.
I received this comment on my last post, one that both saddened me and made me think. There are well over six billion people in the world, and yet we all feel so alone. For some of us, loneliness comes and goes. For others, it’s a constant presence that threatens to consume us and drive us to the edge almost every single day. I don’t personally know those who commented, nor am I aware of their personal stories, so it’s not my place to say whether they’re right or wrong; but again, it made me think.
I once believed that loneliness would forever be a part of my life; by day, it was me against the world, determine to prove everyone wrong and fight any obstacle with all the strength that I had. By night, I was a mess, crying against my pillow while wishing and praying that someone would wrap their arms around me and let me know that they were there.
I thought that nobody understood, when the truth was, I was the one that didn’t get it. I couldn’t depend on people to read my mind and provide the answers to my problems. I couldn’t keep feeling bad an expect them to know what was going on, or tell me what I wanted to hear.
If I wanted to genuine relationships, I needed to take that first step and reach out to them.
Initially, it was very hard. I didn’t, and depending on the person, still don’t trust very easily. I become intimidated when people act like they don’t have any issues or difficulties, so it took some time to open up to them. But once I did it for the sake of being honest, and not necessarily a reaction, it wasn’t so terrifying.
And it doesn’t always have to be something huge or emotional. Sitting in a coffee shop or a library is always interesting. Go to a gym or a park. Volunteer for a cause or an organization that you feel passionate about. Try out a church. Join a book club or a study group.
Maybe it’s not as simple as it looks, because there is also the experiencing of feeling like you have no one, despite being surrounded by dozens or many more. I am nearly twenty one years old and have a lot of amazing loved ones, yet I still have that experience from time to time.
I feel alone when someone tells me to “suck it up and let it go,” especially if it’s a situation that isn’t all that simple.
I feel alone when I think about all the things that I haven’t done; that by now, most people my age probably have or would have done.
This is going to sound very selfish, but I feel alone when I have to work at something. For most of my life, I’ve had to use a lot more energy, to fight a lot harder, and ultimately work my ass off to achieve my goals. It gets really frustrating when certain things appear to come so easily for others, while I’m practically bending over backwards.
Deep down, loneliness is a feeling or a state of mind, not a reality. When I start to succumb to that lie, I’ve learned to close my eyes and say out loud, “it is not so.”
Another part is changing out how I look at solitude. Whenever I am by myself, particularly in my apartment, I try to make the most of it. I try to write for at least an hour each day, and sometimes it turns into more if I really get going. Sometimes I read or catch up on whatever is on my DVR. Heck, it’s nice to just bask in the peace of not having to deal with bad roommates or their shortcomings.
My favorite thing, however, is being able to connect with God. It is honestly where a lot of my spiritual growth has happened, at least thus far into the school year. I read my Bible. I journal. I pray. And not to say that community isn’t good, but there are times where it just gets to be too much and my focus gets lost. I need to be able to have that space where it’s just me and God.
As for being lucky? Well, I don’t consider myself lucky. The better way to describe it is that I am blessed, especially by those that I have in my life. Love and friendship isn’t happenstance; it is a gift. But the gift isn’t necessarily whom or what we have, but being able to recognize it.
Please know that I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do or give a concrete answer; I’m simply sharing my experiences and what I’ve been able to take out of them.
I don’t need a ton of people to care about me in order to make me feel whole. The fact of that matter is, only a certain number of people actually will or do care. Sometimes all it takes is one person to change a life, or vice versa. The question is, will you be that person?
Don’t hide away from the world; we’re not created for isolation or to live without companionship. It won’t be easy, and it will take a lot of time to feel completely comfortable with the whole thing. There is an abundance of joy in taking down the walls of shame, anger, or whatever you feel is keeping you from connecting to other people.
Trust me when I say that I know. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!