Sunday, 30 November 2014

Thoughts on loneliness // Musings

'Negative emotions like loneliness, envy and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; They're big flashing signs that something needs to change' 
 Gretchen Rubin 

I recently read an article about loneliness and how it's becoming a great concern for young people, and shouldn't be seen as something that is exclusive to the elderly anymore. Feeling isolated is often seen as a trait of growing older but now this 'epidemic of loneliness' sees that our 20's are riddled with late nights, lonely days, FOMO, stress, anxiety and maybe even depression. While I definitely don't have these feelings now, I have felt a sense of loneliness in the past during a certain period of time at university and the effect that loneliness, or a certain type of isolation, has on your mental health is striking.  And even then I shouldn't really call my experience loneliness because all I had to do was Skype a friend, arrange a lunch date, a shopping trip, a walk in the park anything simply as a way to force myself out of the house.  Sometimes that's all it takes - the effort to spend quality time in the presence of a friend or family member and more often than not this can be enough to banish the dull feeling of isolation and remind you that you have people, you are not alone.

But what happens if that isn't enough? What if you get to the point where you find that you have no real friendships, just mere acquaintances, no close family members, just mere relatives?  Don't get me wrong, I think knowing how to enjoy your own company and how to spend time alone is an invaluable thing to learn and is often needed in a world of constant communication. Being surrounded with the wrong people in order to fill an empty void is just as bad on your mental health as feeling lonely in the first place. But being lonely for a prolonged period of time in a town, city, school, place of work or, even, the entire world, can seriously affect you mentally, physically and emotionally. And by being lonely I don't mean being single, I mean no close friends, no close family, no close...anyone.  Maybe I'm over-thinking this but it's something I seriously worry about happening to me. I feel so incredibly grateful and lucky to be surrounded by loving, caring and happy friends and family that it's hard to imagine somebody not having the same.  And sure, it is easy to blame things like social media because being connected in the digital world is no substitution for face to face communication, no matter how real it may be. But I think our 20's are filled with great change, growth and maturity which causes you, the people around you and your circumstances to change drastically, sometimes multiple times. Concentrating on education, work, romantic relationships or even starting your own family of course takes up our time and energy and if everyone of your friends are doing the same, it may feel like you're on your journey alone.

Some say loneliness is part of the human condition but, ultimately, we are social creatures - we crave community, intimacy and a sense of belonging. Maybe you had this in the past and don't have it any more, maybe you are still searching for your own community or maybe you have a great close group of people in your life right now.  I'm happy that I can say that I have my own group and individuals who I know I can count on but wherever you are on your journey, if there is one thing I do know, it is that any feelings of loneliness need to be met by action - small steps to finding those that feel like family and more often than not, you won't have to look that far because great people can be found in great places.

What are your experiences with loneliness?

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  1. This is a beautifully crafted post, more people need to speak about issues that just seem to go by unnoticed, well done for voicing your opinion on it! I just started uni and I've been contemplating the idea of loneliness too, from being around the same close group of friends to being in a completely new setting, it was unsettling and I let it get to me more than I should have - but like you, I've come to appreciate the bliss of my own company, and that you don't need hundreds of really close friends, or see them every single day to know they're always within reach :)


  2. Wonderfully written Saadiya. I've battled with Loneliness on and off for the past four years and haven't yet found a solution to it. I write, I bake, I take a walk, I try to enjoy myself and my solitude as much as I can but i know it can be difficult. A lot of friendships nowadays feel fleeting as everyone is so busy with this, that and the other! P.S You may like this video, i watch it often :)


    Sade xo

  3. I used to have this really close group of friends, but that changed when I moved away to uni. Nowadays we only talk if we meet each other in the supermarket in our hometown. And I don't know my classmates well enough to call them close friends. It's a transaction phase I guess, but I'm glad that I don't feel lonely, that I kind of enjoy spending time on my own. But at the same time I do look forward to the future when I hopefully have a close group of friends that I can rely on. I guess we'll have to wait and see!


  4. Really great post!
    We are a generation of young people who are more socially aware of our situations, but blur the lines between real life and virtual life. So for example, many have more 'friends' on things like facebook, twitter and instagram and in person. Because lots of us don't see a difference than say, our parents who did not grow up with the internet.
    But with this comes loneliness and comparison. As we all know, being a 20-something in this day and age is full of pressure with jobs, love, money, friendships...
    I was incredibly lonely in my first year of uni. So lonely to the point where I almost packed up and got on the first plane home. I had friends, but they felt more like acquaintances because I had only known them for a few months and only really met up to go drinking - no real, deep connections.
    I battled it in many ways though: 1) accepting that I do actually like my own company and setting myself 'Independence Challenges' like going to the cinema, beach, restaurants, etc alone.
    2) I made more of an effort with people on my course/societies. Because I'm an introvert, it's often second nature to try not to be seen/heard and therefore people get a cold vibe from you automatically. I noticed a shift in my own body language once I started talking/listening/smiling more and I made more friends so quickly in second year! I couldn't believe it!
    Once I had done that, I was just more confident in myself and that somehow radiated off of me and more people at uni took notice. Two years on and I have a really nice group of friends, but I do still like to spend time alone (mainly blogging and singing really, really badly!).
    Also praying helped a lot. I didn't ask God to cure my loneliness, but instead asking Him to help me live His way. And then it finally happened and my life got better. That horrible void was gone!
    I hope you find a way through it too! It won't be like this forever :D


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