At one point, or another, through life … most of us find ourselves lonely.
It would almost seem that some of us are born with the loneliness gene, just like some of us are born extra happy, depressed or highly energetic. You know the people I’m speaking of …
If I think back on the first time I ever felt lonely, I would most certainly be looking at my childhood. I’m sure that just like many of you, I never fit in. As a child, I didn’t really understand what it was that made me different. Why didn’t the other kids want to play with me? Why were they so mean? Why did they relentlessly pick on me and make fun of me?
Of course, my older-self can probably analyze the actions of all those mean children, many of whom I’m actually friends with today, and break it down to a simple fact. They were also very lonely going through their own crap and didn’t know how to express themselves in healthy ways.
A few particular “mean” moments stick out in my head, but none are etched as permanently as the one I’m about to describe.
We were outside at recess, in 5th grade, playing a game that involved a ball – don’t quite recall the name – but the premise was that you had to throw the ball to the next person and say something as you did it.
It was my turn to catch, and one of my male classmates was throwing the ball to me. He walked up as close to me as he could, and as he threw the BASKETBALL directly in my face, he said:
“We all make mistakes, and God made you.”
I don’t know what hurt worse. The burn on my face as the basketball bounced directly off of it or the burn in my soul as his words echoed loudly … I was already feeling lonely, sad and lost and he just amplified all of that in one second.
Fast forward to many years later, I invited this same boy to my very first housewarming party. He was visiting from out of town and I wanted to catch up with him and see where life has taken him.
As we were chatting and he was opening up to me, I realized that most of his life, he’s been lost, he’s been searching, and damn … he was just as lonely as me, if not more.
I told him the story of us playing at recess and what he did to me.
To say the look on his face was mortifying would be an understatement. I’m pretty sure he could have crawled out of his skin if he could.
My point in telling him wasn’t because I was angry – obviously I had forgiven him by this point (although, it did feel good to watch him squirm with discomfort, haha), I simply wanted to remind him of an experience we had together. He was a mean kid, not because he’s a bad person, but he had some things to work through. Just like we all do. And I kind of wonder if someone had said that to him at some point and he just repeated it back to me.
Taking it back to loneliness … I do believe this is an emotion that we get very familiar with from a young age. Not all of us know how to connect. And even if we are more inclined to understand a true connection concept, we don’t always have people around us that would provide healthy, nurturing connections.
So from a young age … we are lost … we are searching … and we’re almost used to being lonely because we tend to think that no one is like us and no one gets us.
And loneliness isn’t something that you “grow out of.” It follows you through adulthood and deeply penetrates all aspects of your life.
I tell people that some of the loneliest moments I experienced were actually when I was married. I was with someone, who I believe to be one of my soul mates, for 17 years. Initially, we really really connected. No one “got” me the way he did at that point in my life … we were best friends. There wasn’t anything that we didn’t share. But over the years, we grew apart and the loneliness came back with a vengeance.
Before I met this guy, I was used to being lonely. I longed for something else, but I didn’t yet have the experience of being truly connected with someone. Of course, after having that experience, now I knew what I was missing.
But my relationship wasn’t the only place where loneliness lingered. Being an entrepreneur, I chose a very lonely road. There is nothing easy or glamorous about building a company from the ground up. I always tell people you have to be a little crazy to choose this journey, and most of the people around you won’t really understand your crazy. And the more success you have, the lonelier it gets.
At some point, I really started to feel like loneliness was now my best friend. It was always with me, where I event and whatever I did …
… and I think that’s normal.
I’m not saying that’s healthy … but don’t feel so out of place. Loneliness is a natural human emotion that, at the end of the day, just reminds us that we have to keep moving.
Here is an excerpt from something I wrote on the topic of loneliness …
“Loneliness, like any other feeling we experience, is meant to teach us something. It delivers a message to us …
All those nights falling asleep with tears in my eyes, loneliness was gently whispering that I should move on. All those times no one was holding my hand, loneliness was nudging me because I wasn’t connecting. All those times I was laying next to him thinking about how lonely I am … it’s because I should have been laying alone.
Like a dear friend that’s always there, I’m not sure if I should be thanking loneliness for cradling me all those nights … or if I should be mad that it gripped my heart so strongly.
But in my conclusion, loneliness is nothing to fear.
It’s just nature’s gentle reminder that we must keep moving and flowing …”
So to the wife that’s disconnected from her husband, I urge you to get to the core issue and figure out the missing connection. To the single woman who is searching … find a way to truly connect … to the people that haven’t found their “tribe” … keep searching – because others out there are looking for you too. And to all the entrepreneurs out there, well heck, you chose one of the loneliest roads possible. I applaud you and also encourage you to connect with others that chose that crazy path. It’s all possible …
The only way to “beat” loneliness is by opening up your heart and connecting with others on a very human level. Some of us just need that one connection, and others need multiple friends. We all have unique needs … but I believe most of us are walking around lonely, no matter how happy or upbeat our posts show up on social media.
By definition, loneliness means “sadness because one has no friends or company.”
So if you’re feeling lonely, it’s because you need to take some kind of action. Go out there and find your tribe, no matter how quirky, unique, weird, deep or whatever else you are … I promise you, there are people looking to connect with YOU.
At the end of the day, we all want to connect, we all want to be accepted for who we are and we want to be around people that get us.
And better yet … can’t find a tribe you fit into? Create one of your own and allow others to find you and connect.
I promise you, anything is possible …