Do you feel lonely? What is it like; a fleeting affect that pays you a visit whenever you are home alone, when you miss your parents, or when you have had a fight with a loved one? Or is it more like a constant companion, who manages to get your attention, some days and gets ignored the other days?
Sounds familiar? Or are you still trying to find the answers? Either way, I know you know what I am talking about.
Loneliness is a pandemic. Yes, Corona did bring the existence of this widespread disease in our lives, under the spotlight, but we know it has been living among us way before the virus spread. It has been slowly seeping into our world, debilitating our everyday existence, pushing us to extremes we never thought we’d go through. It doesn’t differentiate between rich and poor, young and old, or man and woman. The ratio of the most impacted, in each group, may vary, yet most of us have felt it at some point.
But the problem with loneliness is that, in some cases, it stays longer that we may like.
American Psychological Association defines Loneliness as “An affective and cognitive discomfort or uneasiness from being or perceiving oneself to be alone or otherwise solitary.” And it does make sense.
There are times when feeling lonesome is more like our perception; it doesn’t mean that the feeling isn’t legit, it just means that we may not be really alone, yet feel lonely. Like it happens when we do have a partner or even a family, but we still feel like we don’t belong. And for many others, lack of healthy social connections is, as a matter of fact, one of the most common causes why people feel this profound discomfort.
Being alone is a plus in many ways, if you ask me. In fact, we have been reminded, from time to time, that spending quality time with oneself is paramount for a healthier and happier life. We absolutely need time to ourselves to understand our needs, figure out our conflicts, to retain our sanity, and sometimes to find answers we seek. Alone time should be everything pleasant and fulfilling, but then like they say – Too much of everything is bad – too much of alone time is bad too.
Here’s why I think we feel lonelyand there is always moreto it:
1.Seeking Genuine Connections:
Anyone who craves deep and genuine connections, would know experiencing such bonds is a rarity in our times. In a world where instant gratification and momentary distractions rule the game, it can prove disappointing to desire friendships/connections that are grounded, loyal, and stable. People who put in a lot, in their associations, are often seen learning to invest carefully, the hard way.
Those who don’t do superficial or causal, are therefore more likely to either have fewer people, or in some cases, no one around. Constant disappointments also make us more closed and defensive, leading to being susceptible to feeling lonely.
2.Being Selectively Social:
Then comes another class of people, infamously and incorrectly labeled as “Anti-social “when the fact is that they are just ”Selectively social.” These are the ones who are sensitive to the vibes and energy others bring to the table, and are particular about who they spend their time and energy on.
They look for value in their interactions and would only allow people who have something substantive to offer. First ones to say no to office gatherings, family functions, and causal meet ups, if they feel others don’t meet their set benchmark (emotionally, intellectually, or creatively speaking).
Being socially picky would only mean that you won’t be seen hanging out with just about anyone and therefore aren’t going to have many people in your network.
When quality over quantity is your life’s mantra, you are likely to tread your path solo, which sometimes does get lonely.
Co-dependent relationships put people at a higher risk of experiencing loneliness at some point in their lives. Think about it – if our whole world revolves around just one person, what’ll happen when that person isn’t around? That was a rhetorical question, by the way!
A lot of times, romantic bonds and close friendships confine our social interactions to only one person. We spend all our leisure time with that special someone, gradually getting distant from our other connections. And when things go south with our significant other, we end up lonely and sad, with no one to turn to. Imagine dealing with a heartbreak with no social support!
4.Being A Black Sheep:
Have you ever felt you don’t belong with the people around, that no one understands you or that you are different? Not being mainstream can be both a blessing and a curse, and is, in fact, another common reason why some people find it difficult to fit in. You may be different in many ways; your sexual orientation, marital status, belief system, values, your lifestyle, medical conditions, body type; it can be anything that makes you an anomaly among the rest, and our society isn’t quite welcoming of anything/anyone that’s unconventional. With the fear of being judged, or even worse, getting socially ostracized, many people choose to keep themselves to themselves. Suffering in isolation and shame lead many to the dark pit of loneliness, and when darkness gets too much, people often resort to extreme measures as a way out of their misery.
Loneliness is a curse. It’s felt when our social and emotional needs aren’t met, because we don’t have anyone around to satiate those human needs. Loneliness is also having a house full of people, weekend outings with friends, being socially active, and yet not belonging anywhere or with anyone. Whatever your reasons may be, next time you feel down in the dumps, just remember – You share this feeling with thousands of people out there. You aren’t alone in feeling lonely.