“Something funny happens to people who are lonely. The lonelier they get, the less adept they become at navigating social currents. Loneliness grows around them, like mould or fur, a prophylactic that inhibits contact, no matter how badly contact is desired. Loneliness is accretive, extending and perpetuating itself. Once it becomes impacted, it isn’t easy to dislodge.”—Olivia Laing, “Me, Myself and I”
How to deal with loneliness (anon request):
For a start, please know that everyone has dealt with loneliness at some point, it’s not unusual, it’s not unnatural and it’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Whether you genuinely have no-one around, or simply feel alone in a crowded room, it’s a common experience and there are ways to combat it!
- The main thing, of course, is getting used to being in your own company. Take yourself out to the movies and promise to turn your phone off from the moment you leave the house to the moment you step back into your door. Learn to rely on your interests without a dependency on technology; take baths, read books, etc. I know this all sounds painfully obvious but how often do you see someone instagramming whilst they’re waiting for the bus? If you can’t go two minutes alone without checking your phone, loneliness may have more to do with boredom than you realise.
- Discover the things you genuinely like. I spent a long time listening to music I didn’t like that much because I thought I should, y’know? It’s cool to listen to so-and-so, so I listened to it. That’s such a shitty way to do things! Read the books you actually love, even if they’re pulp romance novels, or books on the history of trains. Watch the films that actually interest you - note, if you find yourself reaching for your iPhone halfway in, you ain’t that interested honey!
- Take a class or join a group. It ain’t that hard! Find a book club! Join a pottery class! Go speed dating if you have to! It may sound lame but a lot of people go to these places to pass the time & make friends, don’t think you’re the odd one out!
It’s hard to decide whether or not to try and reach out to other people or just become content to be by yourself; I think it’s a delicate balance. Don’t be apathetic about isolation, actively work to make friends and have people to call up for a coffee, but I do think it’s unhealthy to rely on other people for your happiness as well, so use your time feeling lonely to unlearn the idea that being by yourself is a bad thing!
You’ll be just fine, nothing’s permanent.