I’ve hit on this a little bit before, but I’ve been feeling it a lot recently so I think it deserves more air time.
Let’s talk about loneliness.
Loneliness is something that has been weighing on me very heavily for the past few weeks, and I think it’s a huge part of adulthood that isn’t talked about nearly as much.
Especially for young adults.
Picture this: senior year of college. You live in a dormitory with some of your closest friends. You’re working three jobs and never have a moment alone. Your small extroverted heart is bursting with joy. The hall cheers when you walk in after work. You have friends waiting for you. Your room is a safe haven for so many. You are loved.
But in a few months, it’s gone. You’re living in a small apartment across town with a single friend. You struggle to find the right job. Nothing fits. Suddenly, all your favorite people went from living three doors down the hall to minutes away, miles away, cities away, states away. Schedules don’t line up anymore. You’re spending many of your days alone. Eating alone. Working alone. Watching movies alone. You go to a big church. You love the worship and the sermons, but it’s so hard to get to know people. You sit through every service alone. You want to get involved, but your inconsistent work schedule doesn’t allow it. Your roommate gets a boyfriend. Another good friend starts a serious relationship. You miss your family. You start getting antsy.
A global pandemic begins. Statewide lockdown. Can’t leave the apartment. You found a job you love, but you can’t work. Can’t see people. Can’t see friends. Alone. Alone. Alone. Roommate engaged. Roommate is gone a lot. Haven’t been hugged in three months. Haven’t felt loved in even longer. Alone. Alone. Alone.
Your heart aches for companionship. You start searching everywhere. You had it in college. Where did it go? What did you go to drive it off? You start counseling. You start working through what you’re feeling. You feel as if everything is slipping away, right through your fingers, right in front of your eyes, and you can’t do anything about it. Everything was perfect. Why did things have to change?
You feel empty, so you try to fill the void with anything you can find. Video games. Hiking. Writing. Reading. Disney+. Youtube videos. Dating apps. Nothing works. You still feel empty.
You want to feel wanted. You want to be invited to things. You want to be involved. But you’re stuck. You feel like you’re giving so much, only to get so little back. You spend so many nights in tears. The isolation is tearing you apart. You want to share how you’re feeling but can’t find the words. Even if you could, you don’t want to burden anyone else.
You spend holidays alone. You crave family intimacy that can’t exist. You don’t know what to do to stop feeling this way. You’re stuck. You’re alone.
I’d be lying if I said that this past year hasn’t been one of the most challenging in my life so far. It has been. Even without the coronavirus, this has been a rough ride emotionally. Though I am learning a lot about myself and my needs, I have also been wrestling with an overwhelming emptiness and loneliness. Being separated from my family has been a lot harder than I ever thought it would. I’ve been growing apart from friends and feel like I can’t do much about it. And, above anything else, I have realized how much I despise being alone. But, even for despising it, I am still alone a majority of the time.
I feel like this is a stage of life that we all go through. The involuntary social withdrawal stage. Where we all reach the fork in the road and take different paths, often away from each other. Whether it be pursuing an intense career, traveling around the world, settling down with a partner, or taking the time to figure out who we are, we’re all going in different directions. Never in my life have I ever felt so alone.
I’m stuck in between two major points in my life—I can no longer benefit from living at home, but I don’t have a family of my own yet, despite how badly I want one. I’m stuck, and I’m alone.
But I know that I am not alone in how I feel. I know that there are others out there who also spend night after night in tears, feeling separated from all those they love so deeply. The best thing I can tell you is that you’re NOT alone.
I’m writing this as much for myself as I am for others, but remember that you are allowed to reach out. You are allowed to initiate things. Do not simply wait for others to come to you. Start the conversation. Bring up an idea for a hangout. Call randomly to check-in. Text them exciting things from your day.
You will drive yourself insane and break your heart if you spend your entire life waiting for others. You’ve got to take some initiative. You’ve got to take the first step.
Have you also been feeling the weight of loneliness?
What steps can you take the lighten the load?