17.7.19

HOW PEOPLE MAKE
MY LIFE BETTER




Why do I feel the need to leave the house on a Sunday when I could just lounge inside all day, alone? Why does the idea of having a gym buddy automatically make the gym sound like somewhere I’d actually enjoy going?

Why am I constantly in communication with loads of people at once on Insta-stories? Why do I stay later at work or make my colleague(s) wait for me to finish just so I can ride the subway part of the way with a friend?

It's not that I have to be surrounded by people at all times. Although, that sounds like my extroverted self's dream. It's that life — in all it's beauty yet torturous ways — is easier done with another human being who gets all the human being-ness. That's not to say that other beings, like chihuahuas and/or moth-pets can't be great life companions. But let's face it, your dog won't reply to your insta-story or make you a cup of tea. And your moth-pet certainly won't be your gym-buddy. But that's a story for another day.

There was a time I can remember being surrounded by too many people that I just wanted to flea. In hindsight, I think I was surrounded by people who perhaps didn't provide what I wanted or needed in a friendship or relationship. Fast-forward almost four years and I've found myself in a position where I am not only single but recently moved to a new country where I knew only two people. Two.

I first felt truly lonely when I moved to London last summer. The city had the best summer weather they've ever had. The parks were filled with friends on picnic blankets listening to music, having a few drinks, talking, and laughing together. There I was, alone, wanting so badly to be them. To be with people, anyone, that I could talk to and enjoy the summer with. 


Alone in my dream city 

In the past, I didn’t realize it then but my loneliness was caused by a lack of being surrounded by the right people whereas my newfound loneliness was caused by a lack of being surrounded by people in general

What was confusing about this feeling was there was so much guilt attached to it. I had achieved my dream of moving to London. I had given so much just to be here. I traveled on my own to Stockholm. I had wandered the streets of London. I was among such rich history, art, cuisine, and architecture. And yet, there’s something about being in awe of something alone vs. being in awe of something with someone that made my experiences feel worthless. 

There’s a Swedish proverb that says Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow. I feel that it perfectly explains why I feel so happy when I can share my joyful moments with other people. It also explains why loneliness can feel so tough. Because of the nature of loneliness, I find that it’s not something I’d typically share and hence, halve the sorrow, making it feel like a big weight on my shoulders. There were times when I considered moving back home because I felt that being here with no one to share my experience with was somewhat of a waste. 


There were two main things that helped me stay here and get through the loneliness. The first was that moving here was one of my biggest dreams. So much of my heart was invested in it and I had sacrificed so much for it. The passion was what kept me going in the harder times.

The second thing that kept me going was my spirituality. Feeling connected to something bigger than myself, knowing that I am part of every other being on this earth, and reconnecting to who I am all help me feel less alone. There’s really something to it; Just think about monks that meditate in caves alone for years. How do they survive without human contact? 


Looking back now to just a few months ago, I realize how important having a strong social network is. When I was feeling the most lonely, it was hard for me to see the bigger picture. I knew there were other people out there feeling exactly the same and that if we could only meet each other, that we could effectively solve each other’s loneliness problem. Simple, right? 

If you’ve ever felt lonely before, you know it’s not a simple feeling and the solution often feels non-existent. What with all our new technology, we still can’t just order a friend online. Making friends requires meeting new people, building a rapport, and nurturing the friendship. It has to grow organically and unfortunately new friends don’t grow on trees. 


Who am I?

As I navigated my feelings of loneliness, I learned a lot about myself. I doubted myself a lot too. I slowly learned about my own social requirements. Loneliness is a subjective experience and the amount of social time each person needs can vary. For me, I know I’m in need of social time when I start to over-anaylse my own thoughts too much. When I feel tired for no reason, uninspired, or begin to question who I am a little bit, I know it’s time to see my friends. 

The people in our lives can not only satisfy our need for social interaction and connection but they mirror who we are. We are great reflectors of each other. Without even realising it, I learn so much about myself by the way I speak and the reaction to how I speak, the questions people ask, the emotions and energy I give off and receive, these all provide insight into who I am, and vice-versa. 

I finally feel like I’ve found my sweet spot of social requirements. I sound like a robot but for the sake of talking about loneliness as a concept, stick with me. 

I’ve thought about things like: 

  • Do I need to talk to a close friend every single day? 
  • Do I need to see someone in person a few times per week? 
  • How much alone time is beneficial vs. detrimental? 
  • Do I need to actually interact with someone or just be around people?

Knowing what we need and how to get it is essential to not only avoiding loneliness but truly feeling our best. Is there a worse feeling that loneliness? It’s certainly up there in the ranks of shitty feelings. And it’s one that can be all-consuming. There are so many facets to it. When I’ve felt really lonely, I’ve subsequently felt insecure, anxious, sad, scared, worthless, hopeless, and a lack of identity. What other feelings in the world also come with a string of other horrible feelings? Tell me. I’ll wait. 


The lonely cloud has passed 

As I type this post, I realize that I haven’t felt truly lonely in a while. Of course I’ve had times where I felt alone and I think it’s natural to feel this way from time to time. But overall, I realize that in my short time in London, I’ve managed to find and nurture some of the deepest friendships I couldn’t have ever imagined. When I decided to pack up my life and move to London, I made a conscious decision to start living the life I’ve always dreamed of. I feel like when I did that, everything flowed with my heart’s calling and the right people came into my life. I’ve made friends through doing things I love: volunteering at the London Design Biennale, teaching yoga, through fashion blogging, and with my flatmates of whom I know we’ll be lifelong pals. 

I realize now that loneliness is never something I should feel guilty about. Nobody chooses to be alone or to not have friends or relationships. We’re hard-wired as humans for connection. And there’s never been a more important time to remember this. As much as people have their differences and we’re individual beings, we’re more alike than we realize. What are united in our humanity and that includes our desire for love and acceptance.

PHOTOGRAPHY: LEANNE DIXON

One thing I’ve learned is to not be afraid to be the one to reach out, be vulnerable, and ask someone to hang out with you. Ask for their number or their social media and begin showing up in their life. Be fearless in showing them who you are. Because they feel exactly like you do and isn’t it the best feeling in the world when someone asks us to hang out? When someone opens their world to you and wants to spend their precious time with you, it feels damn good. 

After all, we’re all only here for such a brief time and the more connected the world is — and I mean truly connected by heart and soul, the better this round globe of wonder will be. 

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