Loneliness sucks. I think the time has come to start talking about this epidemic that’s sweeping our cities. Since the industrial revolution loneliness has been on the rise worldwide and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
It’s hard to come out and admit that one is lonely. The very act of doing it creates the fear in us that people will see us as an outsider or someone that shouldn’t be socialised with. We worry that admitting to loneliness will reveal us as somehow broken or damaged. Someone that no one else wanted to play with. But that’s not the case.
Almost everybody experiences loneliness at some point in their lives. Generally, it happens around periods of growth or change. For example, going from being in university to the workplace or maybe after getting married and moving country.
For me, it happened when I moved from Australia, where I grew up, to the U.K. I went from having a tight-knit group of friends and family to having no one around me. Everything was new. Nothing was familiar. I wanted friends and found them very hard to find on my own in London. I felt painfully, crushingly alone. It took a few years, until I once again found myself surrounded by friends and people I trusted but it was painful for a long while. The important thing to take away was that there was nothing wrong with me. I had simply chosen to do something that changed my life and as a result, my friends and family were far from me.
It turns out that during that time, I wasn’t the only one. According to The Campaign to End Loneliness, 45% of adults in the UK feel lonely. That’s 25 million people and the same is true across much of the world. We are very much in a loneliness epidemic.
So why do we get lonely? Well, it’s a natural response. Evolutionarily we needed to work together to survive. Then, as today, we needed the network of a society to make life function and people who were comfortable on their own would be more susceptible to dangers. Those who felt uncomfortable on their own sought connection and friendships which helped them survive and to this day those neural networks are baked into our deepest desires. When we are alone for long periods of time our body starts to crave connection with others in our society.
Loneliness is perhaps a greater fear for most of us throughout our lives than death. Many of us can stomach the thought of dying but being abandoned! On our own! This is the sort of thing that keeps us up at night. We want to have strong relationships in our lives. It’s perhaps the most important thing.
As we are all prone to bouts of loneliness, particularly around periods of transition in our lives, why not download Sense Social. The Sense Social app will help you to meet people that share your interests as you can find local events in your area that you can attend. If you are suffering from loneliness now I cannot recommend it enough. It will give you a tool to ease and eventually end this period of loneliness in your life.
We shouldn’t be afraid to say that we are lonely. Ultimately, humans are empathetic beings. We want to help one another and your bravery to admit to your loneliness is the first step on the road to a better life.