The Other "L" Word
How often have you felt lonely in your life?
Or for me, the question is: has there ever been a time when I didn't feel lonely?
I've always thought something was wrong with me. Even when I'm out with good friends, somewhere deep inside I still feel that twinge of loneliness.
Three Out of Five
Right now I'm doing a book club on Jennie Allen's Find Your People: Building Deep Community in a Lonely World, where she announces, "We aren't supposed to be this lonely."
Then why, according to the research she has done, do 3 out of 5 people admit to being lonely?
Allen briefly goes through how cultural, geographic, and technological changes have led the U.S. to pull away from life built around community. Instead we build life around independence. There's nothing inherently wrong with independence; but the way our lives are set up now, we are just so disconnected from other people.
The research advises that we need around 15 "consistent, interconnected" people (aka your "village") and 2-5 close personal friends.
My close friends have completely changed since I was a teen, to my 20s, and to my 30s and 40s. I've generally had a couple of good friends at any given time.
Yet I've still always felt lonely.
I'm shy, a bit socially awkward, and I feel different—weird—on the inside. That's why I've always thought it was my fault that I felt lonely. I'm afraid to let people really see inside me, because I just know they won't understand me.
Apparently I'm not the only one.
But come to think of it, I've noticed quite a few women on social media post looking for friends. Granted, some of these posts are just an attempt to connect and sell you something. But not all of them. And there are apps that are solely for making friends.
So What Does This Mean?
I was shocked to read that 60% of us feel lonely! Most other people seem so happy and put-together.
At my age (early 40s), I've been assuming that people already have all the friends they need. Obviously I'm forgetting that people move; friendships run their course and end; and some people have never had a core friend group.
Most people want more friends and deeper connection. Most people would be happy if I initiated conversation or invited them for coffee. Most people want me to reach out and say hello.
It's an Even Lonelier Life
Living with chronic pain is an especially lonely life. That's why I start this blog, and am working on starting a local support group. We spend so much of our lives hiding behind tremendous pain and emotional issues, and always say we're "OK" or "I'm hanging in there" when asked how we're doing.
Therefore, I think it's even more important for us to have both close friends and a village.
A close friend would be the one we tell how we really are—masks off. The village would be those we can call when our car breaks down, or when the whole family is sick and we need a few meals brought over.
This week I challenge you to look at the people in your life and determine where you are in regards to your village and close friends. And if something needs attention, consider how you can grow that area of your relationships.
Today I will remember...
most Americans are lonely, so I should put myself out there more often and try to make new friends.