Sometimes life feels like a tragic game of musical chairs. Without a warning, the music stops and when you look around, everyone else has found a seat and secured their squad while you’re the only one left standing. Loneliness can leave you feeling lost and abandoned but trust me – you’re not alone.
Though people rarely talk about it, at some point in our lives, most of us grapple with loneliness. Maybe it’s starting college in a new town or moving across the country for a dream job or an internship – one way or another, you find yourself alone in a new environment.
Loneliness can also hit you even if you’re staying put. Maybe you’ll find that you have drifted apart from the friends you’ve known since high school or even kindergarten. After all, your late teens and twenties are a time of great personal turmoil. It’s a time when people try things out, travel, settle down and become who they are. It’s only natural that people might also grow apart. This, of course, doesn’t make those feelings of loneliness any less painful.
Though loneliness is a natural, universal experience, there’s still a stigma that’s associated with it. Nowadays it’s socially acceptable to go out of your way looking for a romantic relationship, but being actively on the search for friends is still a bit of taboo. After all, there’s still no Tinder-like app for finding friends.
So, what to do when you find yourself alone? Most importantly, be kind – to yourself as well as others. When loneliness hits, it’s tempting to blame yourself and let your self-confidence be shaken, but do make the effort to cultivate positive thoughts.
We easily become wrapped up in the stories we tell ourselves: “I’m lonely” might be playing around on a loop in your head. This mindset doesn’t exactly help you make friends, so instead of such negative navel gazing, try to show a genuine interest in others.
The best way to exit your bubble of insecurity is to try out a new hobby or any activity where you get to interact with others. Working towards a common goal helps to take the pressure off. Suddenly it’s not just about your burning need to make new friends but instead it’s about scoring a goal or discussing the latest read in your book club. The new friends being made are just a nice added perk.
Though it may seem hard, you can also try to view those moments of solitude as a blessing in disguise. There are lessons to be learned – it’s no coincidence that sages throughout history have advocated for solitude as a tool for self discovery. You can use this time to get to know yourself on your own terms.
Maybe you’ve always had a tightly knit group of friends to fall back on and you never even gave it a second thought. But part of growing up is learning to stand up on your own two feet which is why finding yourself alone can work as a crash course in becoming independent. You can also learn valuable lessons in compassion. After going through it yourself, you will be able to sympathize with – and maybe even befriend – others who find themselves alone.
By: Pia Vuolteenaho