Loneliness is ever prevalent in our age of constant 'connection'. The more we integrate social media into our lives, the further away we get from truly connecting with others. Statistics show young people are three times as likely as seniors to say they suffer from loneliness. As a young person, an introvert, and someone who has elected to be childfree, I can say I've definitely experienced those feelings of being lonely or isolated. The cure? Embracing solitude. Most adults would agree it's super awkward to make new friends. Before you know it you're sitting home alone on a Thursday night with your cat and a bottle of wine. (which is actually kinda awesome sometimes). Being childfree, or childless, leaves you at more of a disadvantage in the friend department. Odds are you are the only one in your friend group who doesn't have, or doesn't want, children. Once your friends start having kids, friendship time is typically the first thing to go. It's no ones fault, just an inevitable reality that we all need to navigate. For mom's it's a little easier. Mommy groups mean automatic connections, your kid more or less choose for you. The rest of us are left navigating the weird field of how to make friends when you are over 30.
The first person to make friends with is yourself. If you can't be happy and comfortable alone then you'll never be able to value the world and the people around you. You need to embrace yourself fully, before you can fully embrace anyone else, friend or otherwise. Take the opportunity to learn who you are. Not the surface level social media character you create, but the real you. The you outside of a friendship, outside of the social media eye, outside of a romantic relationship. The real, authentic you. Sound scary? It is. Spending time alone with our thoughts a pretty intimidating activity, but once you get over the fear, you'll have the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of you. Your inner critic can have a pretty loud voice, and that painfully embarrassing memory from 6th grade always bubbles up to the surface to remind you of how clumsy you are, but once we deal with these thoughts, analyze them and move on, our inner thought process can change. You can forgive yourself, let go of the desire for approval from others and start practicing new, more positive ways of thinking. Statistics show us that time spent alone helps us to maintain autonomy, boosts creativity and allows our brains to recharge. People who can tolerate, and enjoy time alone, are happier and have more mental strength than those who don't. Thus, the best way to combat those feelings of loneliness and isolation, is making friends with the one person you can never get away from. So next time you have an evening free, why not embrace the opportunity for some solitude? (Binge watching the newest season of 'You' doesn't count as time alone) Start by turning off your phone (or just putting it away) and eliminating any distractions. Maybe turn on some music to play softly in the background and just relax. Try journaling, praying, meditating, doing some yoga or just sitting in the silence. Grow to be comfortable with who and what you are. If being inside is a little too alone for you, take a walk on a local trail or park. Nature has a way of opening our eyes and hearts to revelations within ourselves. Really listen to the sound of the wind, the birds, or the waves if you're lucky to live near water. Spend some quality time with the most important relationship you'll have.. yourself.
“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” ― Henry David Thoreau
Do you enjoy alone time? Take advantage of #selfcaresunday and spend some quality time with you? Do you suffer from loneliness? Let me know in the comments!