There's this belief that lonely people must be freaks, losers, or social misfits. But this simply isn't the case. Loneliness comes from a lot of different places, and people who have tons of friends can experience it just as much as someone with a small social circle.
Here are some things that being lonely doesn't mean.
It Doesn't Mean You Are Socially Inept
In order to understand this misconception, it helps to wrap your head around the concept of loneliness. Erase the image of someone sitting alone in their cold, un-decorated apartment.
Instead, picture someone with a career they enjoy, children they must raise, parents they care for, and even, friends who come and go.
Yes, lonely people can have others in their life in some fashion, including many acquaintances. What they lack is a true connection with someone. For whatever reason, they haven't been able to forge a bond with someone who will be there for them for the long-term. The inability to share their greatest joys and fears with someone who cares about them is what makes people feel lonely.
It Doesn't Mean Other People Who Claim They Aren't Lonely Should Feel Smug
If you're brave enough to admit that you'd like a few more friends in your life, or that more often than not, you feel lonely, you should be met with love and support. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen.
If you told a friend that you're lonely and that person made fun of you or didn't understand, it's their issue, not yours. Friends should make room for others who feel lonely, and when they don't, shame on them.
At the same time, don't get bitter about people in general just because of a few foolish folks who were careless with your feelings. Instead, keep trying. You'll eventually connect with people who are either looking for another person to make a connection with or want to help you. Never waste your time or emotions on people who don't care because there are enough of them that do. You just need to find them.
Some tips for making friends when you're:
- an introvert
- at a job you already have
- at a new job
- surfing the web
- in a new city
- just out and about
- trying to getting accepted into an established group
It Doesn't Mean You Should Be Embarrassed
Make no mistake, one hindrance to finding friends is simply stating that you need them. There's something about it that makes people feel uncomfortable, but it doesn't need to be this way. In fact, admitting you need more solid connections is a fearless thing to do.
What's more, many people probably feel the same way as you but are covering up. They'd never admit that they could use a more friends, and as a result, it's probably harder for them to make them.
There is a difference between being whiny or desperate, and boldly stating that you feel lonely. With the second option, you own your loneliness. You tell it to people as a statement that doesn't need or deserve judgment. It's simply another goal in your life that you hope to change by taking small steps, one in front of the other. The first step is just admitting that you've got room in your life for a few more genuine relationships.
It Doesn't Mean Loneliness Is Permanent
Loneliness is a temporary state of being. You might get there by things you do (like being a bad friend or just too busy to pay attention to people), or by something that has happened to you (like a new job or move out of town).
No matter how loneliness came to sit on your doorstep, you have the power to decide how long it will stay.
You do that by:
- continually making new friends and trying out new experiences
- leaving your house so you can see other people
- taking ownership of your social life
- realizing that you are responsible for making the connections you want to have.
We've become accustomed to believing that when loneliness attacks, there's nothing you can do. This is just not true.
Sure, loneliness feels bad, and in order to make those bad feelings go away you have to do some work. But it can be done. Never give up or resign yourself to "just being lonely" because you think you have no other choice. You do.
It Doesn't Mean Your Life Has No Meaning
If there's one concept you take away about loneliness it's this: it happens to people, but that doesn't mean your life or the gifts you bring to the world aren't important.
Loneliness doesn't care who it strikes. Anyone can experience it and most people have at least once in their life. The state of loneliness brings with it a host of other negative emotions, which can include a belief that you're not important just because you feel that you don't have a strong connection with someone right now.
Don't let loneliness work on your mind this way. Instead, know this universal truth: everyone deserves to be happy, loved, and treated well. Sure, you're feeling lonely now and that stinks, but make the steps today toward changing that. Just getting out, talking to more people, joining a club, and finding others who have the same hobby as you can make you feel less lonely. Eventually, you'll make a connection with someone and that feeling of loneliness will be far behind you.