Have you ever looked at your shadow and felt that it is your only companion? Have you felt lonely, even amidst a crowd? There comes a point in everyone’s life when s/he has to walk alone. Most people get quite lonely during this season of life.
We often find it quite difficult to connect with people. It doesn’t necessarily need a devastating event in life to leave a person feeling alone and lonely. A thought, a memory, some words, an image – anything can trigger an epiphany that leads you down the path of loneliness. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert is immaterial to loneliness. It can attack anyone, in any phase of life.
While a person battling loneliness is often glorified as a brooding, mysterious, character with a unique charm, only the one involved in a constant battle with loneliness knows what it feels like to not be able to find a true friend among the host of people s/he interacts, talks, works and laughs with on a regular basis. But, what most of us forget is the difference between being lonely and being alone. The two aren’t necessarily congruent, and there are ways, albeit not very easy, to turn loneliness to solitude.
Learn to enjoy your own company.
Learn to see the brighter side of your situation, and enjoy the phase you are in. While being alone may mean that you do not have that one person whose presence sets everything right for you, or that person who can be with you all the time, it also means that you have a rare kind of freedom: to be who you are, to do what you want, with no compromise or sacrifice, to be independent. Enjoy this time, and utilize it to know yourself. Discover yourself and built yourself, so that one day, when you to find that friend, the partner in crime, the co-traveler in the journey of life, you can still love yourself enough to continue being how you are now.
Figure yourself out.
Spend the time to introspect, discover your true self, your passions and dreams buried deep. Ask yourself- who are you really? Someone’s mother, someone’s son, someone’s boss, someone’s teacher, a company’s prized employee, the family’s bread-winner – We lose our identity in the crowd of personas that involve responsibilities and duties. Your true self is somewhere alone, abandoned in negligence – extant, but barely so, going out of breath, bit by bit. Use this time alone to revive that person you used to be, the hopes, dreams, aspirations, goals and hobbies of that lost person.
Pursue your interests.
Visit places you want to see. One of the best ways to enjoy some alone-time and find peace and happiness in solitude is by travelling. Keep yourself busy in enriching yourself as you acquire new experiences from new people, new places, new cultures and thoughts – you can discover a whole new world that will surely transform you. You can also pursue your forgotten hobbies or nurture you latent talents in arts, music, poetry, literature, etc. Read books. Go to the art gallery. Take photographs. Sing. Take dancing lessons. If you are really keen to beat the throttling feeling of loneliness, try to avoid music, books, etc. of tragic or melancholic nature. But, if you do enjoy poignancy in works of art, it’s probably because you identify with the pathos. Just make sure that it’s only as long as you spend time with these pieces that you relate to the gloom. Do not live it beyond the tunes, words or colours. Do not revel in loneliness.
Do not get swallowed by self-pity.
It is easy to fall into the trap of self-pity – you have to crawl out of it. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re alone, it does not mean that people hate you. Don’t be confused into thinking that you are an outcast or a loser. Perhaps you have always been a reserved person and enjoy keeping to yourself, but now, the need has grown for you to find someone to witness your life. Or, you might be an enjoyable company who enjoys socializing with many people, and yet don’t open up to a single one of them, as you laugh away your loneliness. The most talkative people are often most introverted.
But it’s difficult for others to know that. Life isn’t a movie that someone special will look into your eyes and see past the pretense. You have to let down your shield. You have to let people in through the walls that you have strongly built. Have you considered if you are the one with inhibitions, or the inability to feel the connection and chemistry with others? It is not necessarily a bad thing, this inability. It is not right to judge yourself, and start believing that you are not likeable. Perhaps, a little more effort on your side might mend some fences, and build new bridges to reconnect with old friends. Perhaps, you can just reach out to those around you.
Find the friend you need.
Every one of us is connected – by experiences, sadness, love, fear, etc. So, try to see what connects you to someone. We all live under the same sky, in the same big bad beautiful world. There has to be something you have in common with those who are already in your life. Extend a hand of friendship. This friend can be anyone: your teacher, your daughter, you aunt, your lover, your classmate, your Facebook friend. Reach out to them, to relate to their vulnerable side, and you’ll know that you’re not the only one alone. Only a handful of people or a single person is enough for you, because it’s about popularity.
We often withdraw ourselves social and professional circles, and even family members. So try to spend time with those already in your life. If that doesn’t work, remember it’s never too late to start anew and make friends. Push your boundaries, and say yes when you’re auto-set to the ‘no’ mode when it comes to acquainting yourself with people. Get out of your comfort zone. Try to be nice to those who seem lonely like you, and do something for others. You need to believe that you are worthy of a good friendship. You can start by looking for people with similar interests.
Start by finding a common interest.
As you once again start taking up hobbies and activities, you can try participating in such activities through groups. It’s easier to get along with people whom you know you have something common with. So, if there is a lack of people to talk to, you can find groups and clubs, such as hobby centres, book clubs, travelling groups, etc. That way, you can have meaningful conversations, and share enriching experiences. It is through our hobbies and interests that we often express ourselves in a creative manner, and knowing that these are people who think the same way, enjoy the same things and have the same principles or feelings as you do will help you feel more at home. Start by trying to fit into small groups, so that you can still express yourself.
Maintain your beautiful individuality.
Trying to find a friend does not mean you have to wait around for that person to come along before you start enjoying life. Learn to be comfortable in your own skin, to enjoy an experience all by yourself, without the need to share it with someone else to experience it to the fullest. Learn to be your own best friend and company, before expecting someone else to give you companionship. Once you realize that you don’t need someone to keep you busy all the time, you will find that even the quiet and gentle presence of a person in your life is precious. Remember that you can never share your complete self with anyone. So you must cherish those memories, images, sounds, smells, experiences.
Control your pernicious thoughts.
Check your thoughts when you are alone. Be careful about your thoughts when you are alone. Become mindful of your emotions, and the words you say to yourself when you are alone. If you find it difficult, writing may help you, as you will find a sudden surge of emotions pouring. Let the toxic thoughts such as jealousy, anger, self-judgment, confusions, doubt, suspicion, sadism, masochism, etc. leave you. Instead of breaking down or reacting, accept the state that you are in with maturity and calmness. Think in positive ways. Mediate. Wallow in blissful solitude, while figuring out a way out of loneliness.
Find out what’s missing.
Figure out exactly what it is that makes you lonely: a person to talk to, a person to love and nurture, a person who can love and nurture you, someone to share your passion with. It will be easier to connect with people and reach out to the right person. It could also be something else your heart yearns –a safe place where you can be with yourself. Yes, losing touch with yourself might leave you lonely, and so can becoming a stranger to the ways you enjoy channelizing your creative energy. What’s that thing, now vaguely familiar to you, that your heart keeps chasing? You might need a social circle, an intimate attachment, or a date with yourself. Remember that loneliness is nothing but a state of mind. So, think of why you are lonely. This might also reveal if there is any rational basis of the fear, sadness, depression or pain.
It is possible to be solitary instead of lonely, irrespective of your company. Remember that loneliness can be exhausting, distracting, disconcerting. Solitude, on the other hand, is tranquil, satisfying, healing. If you start closing in on depression because of loneliness, then do not hesitate to take professional help. Make it a point to catch proper sleep, because sleep deprivation often leaves a person in a mad mood, which further feeds the state of abandonment and despondency. Learn more about isolation and loneliness. You will see that a lot more people feel like you do.
Being alone does not have to turn into a corrosive struggle against darkness and loneliness. Take the first step of your journey from loneliness to solitude, and find peace. It is easier to get consumed by the idea that you are a small, insignificant speck of sand on the huge, barren desert. Why not try, instead, to feel like one of the stars in the great wide galaxy – shining, glittering, by your own light?