What do you think of when you think of the word lonely?
Loneliness is often considered a negative feeling. It’s one of the many reasons why social media, texting, etc. are as popular and prolific as they are…it allows us to not feel lonely. Even as I sit at this coffee shop writing this blog post, I will periodically check my Instagram and Facebook, curious to see if anyone has connected with me recently. Curious and hopeful. I keep my phone on Do Not Disturb but check it every so often, just in case someone wants to get in touch with me.
I’m pretty sure one of the reasons I even go to a coffee shop to write is so that I don’t feel as isolated at home. My coffee budget…that’s a whole other story.
But why is it considered such a negative feeling? Do we associate loneliness with not being worthy of connection with others? Or is it because we are uncomfortable with our own thoughts, always seeking someone or something to keep our mind away from anything else but…our own mind.
If either scenario is true, then we really need to adjust how we look at loneliness. Because the truth is, we ARE worthy of connection with others, or being the focus of someone else’s attention, but not all of the time. 24/7 attention and interaction with others would be too much, but lately it seems the only time we get away from others is when we are sleeping.
I can’t help but think back to when I was a young teenager when internet wasn’t really a thing yet (yes, there was a time when this existed if you are reading this and under the age of 20). I must have felt lonely a number of times as I know I didn’t hang out with my friends every single day.
And perhaps the memory is foggy, but I really don’t recall feeling the lonely to the extent that I feel it now when I was younger. I also acknowledge that developmental stages were completely different, but lonely is not a feeling reserved for adults only.
This pull to constantly be connected has resulted in a generation of people who can’t sit with loneliness.
The minute we feel it, we reach for our phones to check up on the latest on social media or maybe check-in with a friend via text.
The rise of social media has done many wonderful things. I’m able to stay more closely connected with my family and friends who don’t live in the same city. I am able to share pictures and videos with those same friends and family. It’s easier to share memories with others…all of these are good reasons for social media and texting to exist.
But it’s a slippery slope, and as someone who definitely struggles with her boundaries around social media usage, it can easily turn into a black hole of time and false sense of connection. I’ve even found on some days it can exacerbate the loneliness.
We look online and see all of our friends out and enjoying life, and here we are sitting on the couch at home in our PJs watching reruns of Friends. (Note: I love Friends and sitting at home watching this is one of my favourite things to do).
If you’re anything like me, that will often lead me to then start reaching out to people I haven’t necessarily seen or talked too in ages to see what they’re up too…maybe they will help get rid of this uncomfortable feeling of FOMO and loneliness?
And what about this feeling of not being comfortable with just our thoughts?
I was in yoga this morning and it was a yin yoga class. Poses are held for up to 2min each, so you’ve got plenty of time in a particular posture to just breathe and think. And one interesting thing I noticed was the fact that particular poses brought on certain feelings, and one in particular was extremely uncomfortable. It was slightly uncomfortable physically but mentally it was almost unbearable.
Sitting with our thoughts can be very uncomfortable, but I think this is partly due to the fact that we’re just not as accustomed to it anymore. We have countless things surrounding us to distract us and keep us outside of our heads that on those rare occasions we are caught alone with nothing but our thoughts, we’re thrown off.
Wait a second, you want me to just…sit here?
Well, this is one of the main tenets of meditation. Just sitting with our thoughts. No distractions, just ourselves.
There is a damn good reason the practice of meditation has taken off in recent years. But there’s also a reason so many of us still struggle with it. And there’s also a reason why it’s something I am going to be working very hard on over the next little while.
I have consciously made the decision to not pursue a relationship for the next little while and being alone is something I am just going to have to get used too. Not only that, it’s something I want to get better at. With a major move on its way within the year, I am going to be spending a LOT of time alone. I’ll also be moving to a city I don’t know with a non-existent social circle.
Suffice to say, there will be plenty of opportunities for me to be alone. And I don’t want to struggle through this. If I do, I have a feeling that will make adjusting to my new home a lot more difficult and could even prompt me to want to move back without really giving it my solid effort.
Being an introvert, I value my alone time. But I’m also someone who appreciates my close and personal relationships. Part of what I struggle with when I’m alone is whether I am making the best of this time. Could I be cultivating connections with people right now instead? Should I be doing that?
Or is it okay to just sit here…by myself.
And yes. It is completely okay. We could probably do with a little more of it.