Moving as much as I have, and let me tell you, it’s been A LOT! I’ve had to learn how to tackle loneliness. Loneliness presents itself in many shapes and forms, but I’m sure we all know what it feels like to either feel left out, to not fit in, or simply not know who to call when in trouble. Loneliness, especially while I was wrestling with depression, often whispered lies of inadequacy, failure and rejection.
Here are some very simple tips how to nip loneliness in the butt and quickly feel more connected.
In a day and age, where we barely acknowledge other’s existence, I believe it’s crucial to greet people. It’s a simple act and a vital one. If you are crossing someone’s path it’s a kind gesture to let them know that you see them. Sometimes even a smile is sufficient. It’s letting them know they matter and is often the first step towards social interaction.
Small talk is essential to helping fight loneliness. Yes, it may seem superficial at times, and honestly it takes some practice getting good at it. But if you genuinely try to care, people will notice and respond. Small talk with your cashier, Uber driver, coworker, waiter etc. these are all people that we tend to forget about. I mention this because often we disqualify the people that are offering us a service or product, but even the smallest of interactions can change their day and in exchange ours as well.
Often I would have a difficult time reaching out to someone. I’d come up with excuses like “I don’t really know them too well” and “They’ll probably think I’m weird” or the classic “They’ll think I don’t have any friends”. I still struggle with these thoughts from time to time, but they boil down to stupid assumptions. First off, if the person does think those things then A) you probably don’t want to be friends with them and B) the majority of people don’t think that way. For example if you hear someone needs help moving, offer your help. Or if they need help with a project etc., these are easy ways to get plugged in without coming across as too eager. Sometimes we have to become vulnerable in order to gain a friendship. So reach out! Be supportive, be kind, be caring, ask questions and invest time! Friendships take time and persistency.
This is honestly a hard one to learn and one that I am still learning. But let’s get this straight. The world doesn’t revolve around you. As brutal as that sounds, it’s the truth. Taking things personally is a belief that is attached to fear. It’s important to think rationally and to understand that people’s responses to you are ultimately a reflection of themselves. This takes some confidence and discipline too. If you tend to overthink and analyze people’s reactions, try and become busier. Become more productive with your time, either reading, working out, or cooking etc. The more downtime you have to dwell on things, the greater the stories you make up in your mind reasoning why everybody is against you.
I often can have this ideal imagery of what my friendships should look like. I imagine having 10 friends around the campfire and us being this perfect clique that does everything together. We’d have our inside jokes and long list of memories, and we’d all be these ride or die homies. At times this mindset has forced me to subconsciously disqualify people that didn’t fit my ideal version of what my friends should be and look like. Incredibly shallow, I agree and even more eye-opening, this loneliness was self inflicted. Most of my best friends have been people I didn’t necessarily agree with or even have the same interests. However, it proves my point that my superficiality and wrong expectation have been a cause of loneliness.