This post is dedicated to Chloe
I’ve struggled with this post for a while now. Coming back on occasion to look over it, plan it a little more, then only to leave it again.
Let me start by saying, I’m not a quiet person by nature. I am bubbly, talkative and friendly. Whilst others prefer their own company, I ‘recharge’ from seeing people I love. In school I was told off for talking too much, and since high school, sad as it sounds, I’ve very rarely been without a boyfriend. I think it’s safe to say: I don’t like being alone.
So when I moved back home from university, it was hard: I was so lucky to have my parents, and then my London girls when I moved to the Big Smoke, but my uni friends were spread across the planet and my boyfriend was living in Aberystwyth (and we now live together). I’d always found it easy to make friends, but as a fully-grown adult, living in a city, it just isn’t that easy. Being lonely has hit me at points like I was Akon back in 2004.
The worst bit: loneliness is a feeling few feel comfortable saying out loud.
You may not be able to see when it’s coming, until one day you find yourself sitting alone in your room and it hits you. You cry a little, phone someone close to you, send out a Facebook message or two but nothing except real meaningful company is really going to help.
But we’re not alone in feeling alone. Research from the Independent shows that every year levels of loneliness are increasing – especially amongst millennials.
Eighty-six per cent of millennials reported feeling lonely and depressed in a 2011 study. A study in 2014 found 18-24-year-olds were four times as likely to feel lonely all the time as those aged 70 and above.
Why are we feeling so alone?
It feels ironic in this digital age, when we can reach anyone that we know (or don’t) with the click of a button or tap of our phones, that we feel more disconnected than ever.
Research from Forbes says one reason the Internet makes us lonely is we attempt to substitute real relationships with online relationships. Though we temporarily feel better when we engage others virtually, these connections tend to be superficial and ultimately dissatisfying.
Social media with it’s incessant perfection: seeing the best updates of everyone’s life (I’m no exception), but we don’t see the sad moments, the updates of rejection, hurt or anger. The moments of loneliness.
According to studies from the National Science Foundation, loneliness may be our next big public health issue.
Anyway for many friends and people I’ve spoken to, it’s been moving to a new city where nobody knows each other. Whatever people say, it’s difficult to make friends after university: there aren’t really any societies of life, nights out are confined to the weekend (unless you can handle it the next day at work) and it’s hard to keep up a hobby that will win you friends when you’re living the 9-6 corporate lifestyle.
Over two years ago, I wrote a post, The Power of Friendship when I was leaving university. Back then, I wrote:
True friends will be there for you through it all. Through heartache and break-ups, through some of the most happy times in your life: they’ll help you through, no matter how many bad decisions or mistakes you make. At the heart of a friendship is loyalty: a true friendship will be one where you don’t need to talk every day, you don’t need to be constantly up-to-date with their lives, but know that if you need them, they’ll be there, and nothing will have changed.
And I firmly stick by this.
The last two years have been a rollercoaster. Friends lost, friends gained, A lot of time alone and getting used to change, which in turn triggered continuous bouts of anxiety. There have been many a time where I have been crying down the phone. I even wrote in a post: It’s Okay To Not Be Okay that I’ve come to realise that sticking on a smile and getting on with it is fine short term, but it’s not a long term cure.
But I feel like now I’m through the worst of it, and I simply couldn’t have done it without the constant support of all my friends over the last few years, but particularly Potter’s Gang (you’ll know who you are), who have been at the touch of a button, despite being far away.
We’ve all had our moments over the last 2 years, we’ve been unemployed, heartbroken, miserable, over-the-moon, lonely. Despite rarely seeing each other, we’ve got closer… You girls have made me cry with laughter, angry at stupid boys and actually made me realise that, yes, I am being irrationally psychotic on occasion.
Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s made easier by having beautiful people like you in my life.
So to any readers who have felt or are feeling alone, just remember that firstly, the loneliness won’t be forever: I promise. You will learn so much about yourself and come out stronger. Secondly, there are always real people out there who love you. Always.