How I Overcame Loneliness and Why We Should Talk About It More!
Do you ever suffer from loneliness? It can be a difficult thing to admit, but the majority of us feel lonely at some point in our lives.
In recent years, it has been reported that over 9 million people – that is one fifth of the population – in the UK alone crave more connection, but almost two thirds of us are uncomfortable admitting we feel lonely. These figures definitely suggest a widespread epidemic of loneliness, but if that is the case, then why are none of us talking about it?
Today, I want to share my experience with loneliness in the hopes that it will encourage other women to know there is strength in speaking out about something so vulnerable. In doing so, I also think it might just help the problem get better. Loneliness is often a state of mind, not a reality, and by admitting to it, your story might resonate with others in the same position. Through shared experiences, bonds can form with other women who have suffered similar situations, and this might establish friendships and connections that have the strength to propel you out loneliness altogether.
To the outside world, my life was a complete success. On paper, I really did have it all; a prosperous career path, a loving relationship, a gorgeous flat and beautiful holidays. People looking into my life thought it was great, and I’d even go as far as to say that some were envious of what I had.
But, despite what other people saw, I was empty inside. After years of working in the corporate world and reaping the financial rewards, I wasn’t feeling the least bit fulfilled, and that was confusing, especially because I truly thought this path would lead me to happiness. Every asset I had worked for felt surface deep and unrepresentative of who I truly was. That meant when people wanted to get to know me, they were never truly getting the real me, and that was an extremely lonely and isolating place to be.
Even when I was in a room full of people, attending lavish events and socialising with friends, I would stand there, surrounded by life, yet feeling like the only person left on the planet. Smiling and laughing on the outside, engaging in conversation and always on the go, nobody else could see the truth of my situation, and the more I got used to hiding it, the more I got used to wearing a mask, even at home. At every opportunity, I’d run away from the fact that I was lonely, hiding it from myself as well as the people around me.
The worst thing was, I couldn’t pinpoint when these feelings first came about; too busy to sit down and retrace my steps, it felt like my life had passed by in a blur and I had somehow stumbled, without knowing, into a life that wasn’t mine. Something was stopping me from wanting to sit down and think about where and why this had all started, and looking back, I now know what it was that was holding me back. And that was fear.
I am now strong enough to admit that the thought of sitting in a quiet room after a long day at work scared me, so I kept myself as busy as possible. I didn’t want to admit to myself I was lonely, because it is a state of mind that comes with shame and stigma attached to it. Like the statistics suggest, part of the reason I was fearful of being lonely was because of the negative connotations of the word, so I did everything I could to avoid the truth. Even though my job didn’t fulfil me, I threw myself into it and although I didn’t feel connected to the people around me, I still kept myself busy with social events, because I didn’t want to face what was really going on inside.
The paradoxical thing is, the more I kept myself busy like this, the more lonely I felt. Everything I was filling my life with, everything I was doing to find connection, wasn’t really helping me, and as I continued in this way, I ended up in the most negative and empty space I had ever been.
What’s more, being on the go all the time took a lot of energy. It wasn’t until I reached a state of exhaustion, where I had to slow down, that I started to realise what was really going on. It was then that I finally admitted to myself that, after all this time, it was loneliness that I had been feeling more than anything else. Slowing down helped me realise what I was afraid of, and by admitting that to myself, I was able to discover how to push through loneliness and reconnect to the world around me.
The single biggest thing standing in my way was my own self-acceptance. Before I could even think about sharing my true self with the world, I had to be at peace with who I was first, and that took a lot of self-reflection, soul-searching and pain, but it wasn’t half as a bad as I’d led myself to believe it would be. Because I’d run away from my problems for so long, the thought of facing them was scarier than what they truly were, and once I overcame them, I was able to reconnect to my core self like never before.
If you aren’t accepting and willing to own who you truly are, then you won’t be able to show the world the real you. Loneliness is a feeling based on the inability to connect, but if I couldn’t connect to myself, then how I was supposed to connect to other people and form meaningful, lasting relationships? The unfulfillment I was feeling in my current life was because I was living a life that wasn’t my own, instead of owning who I was and sharing her with the world.
Now, I live an abundantly happy, fulfilled and connected life because I am 100% at peace with myself. I know myself, my values and my dreams as clear as day, and I live with an authenticity that sees the real me reflected back in the people I surround myself with and the life I am proud to lead.
Connection is what makes life worth living; it gives us that buzz and zest for life that makes each and every one of us sparkle. But we can only truly experience it if we break down our barriers to ourselves and get vulnerable enough to share our souls with the ones we love. It’s a beautiful thing, connecting to the world around you, to the people in it and to yourself.
If you are experiencing loneliness, then know there is a way out. Look to yourself for connection first before reaching out to others, and once you are secure in who you are, then you can turn to the world and see with clarity the potential for beautiful, lasting relationships with people who mirror and value your true self.