I’m going to admit. When we initially received the Stay-At-Home order, there was a big part of me that was happy because that meant I would have to deal with people less. For someone who seems to have an extroverted personality, I really don’t like being around people (sorry guys, it’s not you, it’s me)! So as much as I was going through the panic of “WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING??” I was so peaceful being on my own. I was mostly relieved that I didn’t have to make up excuses why I didn’t want to go out or have people over. I was in my happy place being me, doing me all day every day!!
As peaceful as it was to be on my own, and as convenient as it may have felt, it quickly dawned on me. It’s not that I like being by myself; instead, I like the CHOICE of being by myself. Go out Friday night for a couple of drinks with friends or stay home to read a book? I like to CHOOSE to stay at home. Join the girls for a picnic or go watch a movie alone? I like to CHOOSE to go to the cinema alone. Sit with your classmates and chat during breaks or sit at the back with music on and play candy-crush? I like to CHOOSE to sit in the back and listen to my music and play candy-crush. So then what becomes of your life when choices are taken from you??? A big ball of nothing!
And that’s what I’ve been feeling lately…NOTHING!
When things started to get better, and we resumed work, I was delighted. Finally, I will be surrounded by people. As annoying as my colleagues’ questions about my hair are, at least they’re human beings I will have around me. However, that bliss was short-lived. And this is what I’ve come to learn about human beings, or at least myself: Human beings need to interact. And more than just interacting, they need to connect. However, not everyone you interact with will you connect with. And I haven’t experienced anything more depressing than being lonely in a crowd.
I know these are hard times for most of us, so here are a couple of suggestions I can recommend that helped me get through some of the lonely days and nights:
1. Reconnecting with old friends
I guess this is the most obvious one. But there’s more to it than just saying ‘hi’ to an old friend because you’re lonely. Really reconnect and get to know them all over again. It’s such an adventure to reconnect with someone you once knew during a different period of you and getting to know them again in this new ‘grown’ you. Some friends I would think ‘dude, how were we ever friends?’ and some I’m like ‘why were we not closer, again??’. There are so many exciting stories and adventures to hear from people that will surely keep you entertained and forget that you’ve been feeling alone.
2. Trying/going after something that absolutely scares you
This has been the most interesting one that has had my mind occupied and far from thinking about lonely nights. As someone who suffers from extreme anxiety, one of my greatest fear is this irrational fear about what people think of me. So I’m practical with a lot of things I do and try to avoid doing anything that could result in failure because God forbid anyone thinks I’m a failure. I’m currently still working on something, so I can’t give anything out just yet, but boy, does it scare me. And because this requires a lot of thinking and planning, it really keeps my mind and emotions focused on trying to overcome my fears rather than feeding my loneliness. So whatever that thing that you always thought to yourself “Nah, I could never!” Why not? What have you got to lose other than keeping your mind occupied?
3. Joining “challenge” groups
This is another great one that can help you to find a community to connect with. Whether it’s joining a group for 21-day meditation challenge, workout challenge, no-carb eating challenge, bible study challenge, or whatever it may be. And I mean trying a challenge on something you actually have interest in because that way it can help you connect with people with similar interests. Some challenges can be fun and interactive and have an uplifting community that is all around in good spirit. Some groups you may feel are dragging and silent with no communication. Try them anyway. Sometimes even if you’re not interacting in the group, it’s an adventure to test your capabilities and limits to how far you can go with a particular challenge.
4. Disconnect from social media
This may seem a little contradictory because if you’re lonely, why disconnect from the places where you can connect with people?? Simple answer. SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT REAL! Seriously, I hear and read all the time about how difficult this time seems to be for everyone. However, for some reason, everyone still seems to be living their best life on social media. Personally, I don’t even like chatting with people on social media. It doesn’t feel genuine enough. Get someone’s contact and message them or call them on facetime for a conversation. But the scrolling through social media and seeing how everyone is so much happier than you will only lead your loneliness to depression. We don’t need that.
There is one final thing I’ve come to recognize that it’s worth mentioning. Often, our loneliness has to do a lot more with ourselves than with other people. What is it about our own company that sometimes scare us? That saddens us about our own company? What kind of connections do we want? Do I like the friends I have or am I just scared to be alone? We really need to disconnect from the world and take the time and get to know ourselves. Sit through the pain and get to meet yourself. You might just end up liking yourself.
And if things become too hard to bear, please do talk to someone. Trust me, lot more people care about you than you can finish counting. You need only reach out and ask for help. Especially at times such as these, people are not quiet and not checking up on you because they don’t care. People are silent because everyone is dealing with a lot right now, just like you are. Everyone at this stage needs some sort of support. Nothing is personal, we are all just trying to survive this.
So until the next time, I’m leaving you with some of those good good mental health vibes. And for those who may need it, sending you warm tight virtual hugs:)