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Loneliness in the New Year
We’re just over a month into the new year, and I’ve already had several days here and there where I’ve felt intense loneliness. Anybody else?
These days of intense loneliness are not new to me. They come and go throughout my life, no matter what season or stage I’m in. And yet, they somehow seem to knock me off my feet every.single.time.
You’d think I’d be aware of it enough to be ready for when those intense feelings come rushing back.
But I’m not. It throws me off every time.
In an Ennegram book I read recently, it says about type 4 that “fours don’t have feelings; they are their feelings.” I laughed when I read this because it is SO TRUE (though I’m not sure I’m a 4 or a 2, bah! These tests confuse me as much as they help me).
I have big feelings and sometimes I swear my entire body is just one big neuron of feelings. I WISH my feelings were relegated to a specific (and smaller) part in my body (like, just in my head or just in my gut) but nope, it’s my entire freakin body.
When these intense feelings hit me, I usually flounder for a few days, process it all a million times with John (bless him), and eat too much chocolate.
I tend to think, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?”
And then I stumble upon an article about how youth today are feeling more loneliness and depression than ever before, and I’m like, “Whoa. So this isn’t just me, then.”
So if you’re like the average person and apparently a young person (‘young’ being more flexible and fluid the older I get), this is likely your reality, too.
Did any of you see the picture that was posted a few weeks ago by all the beloved bloggers/speakers/writers so many of us follow? If not, um, see below. (Thanks, Sarah Bessey’s fb profile, for this photo!)
And did you see the wave of comments of people, particularly women, asking, “How did you form this group?? How did this friendship happen?? Help me because I want a circle of friendship like that!”
And this group then graciously did a facebook live video answering those questions and sharing how their little tribe started and ended up being what it is today.
And here’s my biggest takeaway from their video: you have to be intentional.
Sounds lame, right? Like, there should be a more magical answer than that.
But this tribe pictured above was started by one woman sending an email to a group of women she wanted to get to know better, and was basically like, “WILL YOU BE MY FRIEND?”
I laughed when I heard this because I have done the same thing to a handful of friends in the last few years.
I was at a Mom’s Night Out event once, and I met a mom there who was new to town. If you know my story, you know I am naturally drawn to outsiders/newbies as I’ve been that person too many times to count. Knowing she was probably looking for friends, and I myself was also looking for friends at that point in my life, I leaned over and said to her, “Hey, I’m in the market for new friends. Are you interested?”
You guys, this is me at my finest: I’m sweet but man, can I be awkward.
Thankfully, she said yes, and we’re still friends to this day (hey-oh!).
But do you see how I had to put myself out there? Granted, I was a bit forward (okay, a lot forward), but, in essence, I had to admit that I was feeling lonely and needing a friend. It wasn’t easy; in fact, it was a little embarrassing, but I was tired of feeling alone.
So when I saw these well-known and loved bloggers sharing a similar story, it again reminded me how we’re all the same. We all hunger for community, we yearn for connection, and we have moments or seasons in our lives where we’re lonely. And I needed that reminder.
So when these big feelings of loneliness wash over me, I’m learning to literally call on my people.
One of whom is my life coach. He and I talk on the phone every Tuesday, and somehow, every Tuesday I have SO MUCH TO PROCESS WITH HIM. He’s an anchor in my life that helps me get rooted every time I start feeling lost.
I also treat myself to an iced caramel latte (or, when it’s cold up here in Minnesota, I ask for an iced caramel latte with no ice – it throws my barista every time) and turn on music that speaks to my soul (lately, this track is where it’s at).
So all this to say, if you’re feeling alone, you’re not the only one! And, as I’ll share in a future post, love and belonging is all around us and we can tap into it and find that love and belonging has been ours all along. Til then, I’ll leave you with this quote Sarah Bessey shared with the picture above:
“All I can tell you today is what I have learned. What I have discovered as a person in this world. And that is this: you can’t do it alone. As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” – Amy Poehler
[Featured photo: Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash]