Loneliness is something that I have struggled with ever since I moved out of my parents’ homes when I was 18. My parents were divorced, and my sisters and I had been switching between houses every other week. In addition, I was having conflicts with both parents, so it was time to leave. It was difficult not seeing my sisters regularly, and while I view myself as a strong, independent individual, adjusting to a new lifestyle was difficult at first. I fell into a small depression for a few months, as the side effects of complete independence, feeling of abandonment, and stress set in. I know it may seem frivolous and naive to some, but I also was in a relationship with a man from Malaysia, and we were in love at the time. But it was long distance. Which added a lot of heart ache to the situation.
As to prevent awkward silence from creeping into our Skype conversations, he suggested we both read the short novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom and then we could talk about it with each other. And so, that very next day I took a stroll down to my local library and checked the book out. It took me three days to read, and the moment I finished reading the last line, I felt my spirits being uplifted and found solace in the novel’s powerful messages. The book ended up changing my outlook on loneliness and on life in general. Along with reading that book, I have learned to fight loneliness from my experience with living alone. For the first 2 years after moving out of my parents’ places, I lived with at least one other person, meaning I always had at least one human being breathing near me, reminding me that I am not living in complete isolation. …Also, reassuring me that it wasn’t ONLY my fault for the bathroom being smelly or the dishes not being washed. However, for the past 9 months I have been living alone. There’s no one to speak to when I get home, no one to laugh with, and no one to ask to go to the grocery store with. Which is a major problem (emphasis on the grocery store one).
With that being said, I am a 100% extravert, meaning I need people to thrive and that loneliness easily gets the best of me, and 5% know how to do life, meaning the following life tips for loneliness should be taken with a grain of salt! So, without further ado.
How to Fight Loneliness
Tip 1: Start Journaling.
I believe any emotion you feel, positive or negative, has a story to tell. Meaning, it has an origin or how it evolved and came to be what it makes you feel right now. And with any good story (which is every story!) it must be recorded! By journaling your feelings, you give yourself an outlet to describe your current experiences in an unapologetic way, which also opens the door for potential thoughts you couldn’t have otherwise garnered to surface. For me, writing has been an immense help when it comes to clearing my mind and putting me on the right track to make level headed decisions. I am also a sucker for reminiscing and so by writing experiences down, I get to have something that I can look back on. I always tell myself to be consistent with journaling, but end up only writing when life gets difficult. What I am trying to get better at is writing in times of happiness and accomplishment, because those feelings are just as influential as the not so happy ones. I think a reason why I battle loneliness at times is because it makes me feel like I am not harnessing the potential that the day offers. It’s the whole idea of, there are people with great ideas, so why am I not being around them sort of thing…this may just be an extrovert issue. Who knows? What I am trying to get at though, is that if I wrote about the happy moments just as much as the not so happy moments, I would most likely consider my life fuller.
Tip 2: Embrace being alone once in a while.
If you are anything like me, I make sure to have a plan for every day of the week. If I lost my planner and iPhone calendar, I think I wouldn’t be able to function. These plans I make nearly always involve being in the company of others. Often times, when I have nothing scheduled, I go a little stir crazy and upset myself since I have no one to entertain, and also no one to entertain me. However, I have recently been able to change my thought process and see time alone as a period for taking a break from the hype (well what hype Lincoln, NE has to offer that is). I have found myself pulling out my paint set and painting not because I found inspiration from a recent experience, but because I love to paint and want to take on the challenge of painting without a purpose. I will run a few miles around my neighborhood, not only to keep myself fit, but to give myself time to think. I have noticed that some of my best realizations have come during when I am running, and am trying to distract myself from my heaving breathes. I also started this blog! Which involves sitting alone in a lot of peace and quiet, so I can compile all my thoughts and succinctly write them here for me and you.
Tip 3: “The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.”
This is the quote by Mitch Albom that helped me out of my small depression, and is now a quote that I live by. I understand it to mean that loneliness is a figment of our imagination, and the only way to feel isolated is if we believe we are. When we choose to take a step back from our current events and activities, we can clearly see that in fact each and every human being is walking this Earth with the same goal as us: to be happy, successful, loved, and respected. This ultimately, creates a bond that every human shares and becomes the link that brings us all together. I think this quote pulled me out of my depression as it made me truly realize that everyone around me also has conflicts they are working through, and that while mine may seem much worse than theirs, that label is unfair because it’s coming from my own subjective perspective. After I was able to think outside of my clouded mindset, I found comfort in the love that my friends were giving me all along by opening their arms with a place to stay and always willingly listening to me. I found comfort in the simplicities of life, such as watching my shadow follow me as I walked to class. I found comfort in knowing that I had realized I was wasting my energy on negative emotions and had the power to make a conscious decision to feel alive again.
So there ya go. My three tips to fight loneliness. While I admit, I still struggle with following my own advice, I hope these ideas help you or at least give you some food for thought.
Until next time,
P.S. If you haven’t read any books by Mitch Albom, I highly, highly, highly recommend you do! Not only does he tell a great story, but he also teaches a great amount of life lessons that apply to every human being in the world. Besides The Five People You Meet in Heaven, I would also suggest Tuesdays with Morrie, and For One More Day. You will love his writing, I am so sure of it!