The classroom is full of people, each one listening to the professor and each one learning new information that will hopefully impact our future with knowledge. The office is teaming with activity as we work on the latest project; daily from 9:00 to 5:00 we gather at our jobs. The city streets are filled with people hurrying from one place to another and the grocery store isles are busy with shoppers. There are people everywhere you look – and then you go home, close the door and settle in for another night of loneliness and isolation.
Living a lonely life is not unusual. There are many studies and many statistics that show that loneliness as a way of life is approaching epidemic levels in America. Knowing the facts and reading the studies are of no help at all when it’s you living this kind of life. If you are admitting to yourself, “I feel very alone,” it’s time to change that. Because you are on this site, you are looking for answers. It seems that the bottom line for most all loneliness is social isolation. Reports show that those who have no close friends have tripled since 1985. This is a growing and serious problem. There are reported reasons that have brought this on. Younger people in particular spend all their time on social media and if they have 1000 Facebook friends, it would seem they are well connected. The truth is, having hundreds, even thousands of followers on social media is not the answer. In fact, these individuals seem to be among the loneliest.
What is missing is spending actual time, face to face, with someone. To overcome loneliness you need to have an actual relationship with a living, breathing human being – and the more the better. You may have to force yourself to get out of your comfort zone and actually reach out to someone else. The very first step in overcoming loneliness is to meet with someone, perhaps over a cup of coffee, and have an actual, real and meaningful conversation. From this grows friendships. You will actually begin to care about this individual and they will care about you. You may not click with everyone, so keep on trying until you do… and you will.
Now let’s revisit our first paragraph. The classroom is full of people and each one listening to the professor… You look around the room and see a friendly face and smile. When the class is over, you approach that person and ask, “What did you think of that explanation the professor gave?” They begin to tell you their thoughts and you engage in a conversation about it. The next day, you approach again and say, “I’ve been thinking about what we were talking about yesterday and I’ve found some new insights. Would you like to go to have coffee later and we can compare notes?” You set up a time and place and a new friendship has begun. And remember, if the first one doesn’t show interest, continue on with your plan and eventually there will be someone that you are really compatible with.
There are probably as many different scenarios as there people and yet each of them is also much alike. We all want a full and meaningful life, but often we don’t seem to know where to start. When you are the newest employee on the job, it may feel awkward at first. As we like to say, “it’s hard being the new kid on the block.” However, as time passes and you gradually feel more confident, it’s natural to start making friends. You might have a wonderful working relationship during the day, and yet when the last light is turned off and the door locked, you head home alone again and the feelings of loneliness creep back in. Whether you are new on the job, or if you have been there for many years, you can still feel lonely. The problem is, you need an after hours friend, one to talk to on the phone or to have over for a bar-b-queue on the weekends. If you don’t know how to break the lonely pattern, you might want to try something different. Buy a couple of tickets to a ball game or to a play and then tell someone you have these two tickets and ask if they would like to join you. If you get a no thank you, try someone else. You know, there are no doubt others that work with you that are also suffering from loneliness. They are waiting and wishing some one would reach out to them. Is it taking a risk? Possibly. Is it worth a try? Of course it is; this is how relationships begin.
Another scenario might involve leaving the work force either through a lay-off or retirement. Suddenly you find yourself with too many quiet hours spent in your own company. Suddenly you find loneliness is overtaking you. Go where there are others busy living life. Volunteer some place and make it you goal to help others. If your attitude is telling you that you will never find meaningful relationships again, that is exactly what will happen. But if you approach your loneliness with the attitude of finding friends and living a full life, that too is what will happen. Funny how self-fulfilling prophesy works; we are, in the end, the masters of our own destiny.
Sometimes a little tip along the way can go miles in helping us change our direction. Always smile and be friendly. Never be pushy and always be nice. This may seem to be over simple and obvious, but it never hurts to be reminded. After all, you are not running for office – you are just making a new friend.
If you would like to discuss this with someone, feel free to write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to meet you.