It’s in our human nature to want to be around people. We crave human contact and, even when we feel like being alone, we always come back to people. And that’s why loneliness is something to never wish on your worst enemy.
I was about 18 years old when I realized my issues with feeling alone. I’ve always been fairly introverted, and am the first to choose an independent activity over a social one. But when I started college, I was isolated. I knew no one, I struggled with making friends, and none of my usual comforts were around. I quickly found myself depressed. And while I thought it had come from pressure, it was because I was lonely.
Four years later and not much has changed. In the past two years I have ended a relationship, moved away from all of my friends, started a job with few fellow millennials, and lived alone for the first time. Morgan’s life is…only Morgan’s life. I had never felt so alone in my life, and none of my usual coping mechanisms were working. Depressed, anxious, having anxiety attacks on weeknights, my loneliness had completely taken over my life. So I took it back.
“Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life. The thing that I’m most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me.” – Anne Hathaway
One night I woke up from an anxiety attack. My life wasn’t turning out how I wanted it to and my body couldn’t relax. This is a physical symptom of loneliness. The next morning, still recovering from the attack, I made a list of ways to regain my life back by stopping the loneliness.
Before I share my list, I want to say that it has not been easy fighting the loneliness. It is not in my personality to be confrontational and strike up conversation. But with a little push, and knowing what was on the other end of the stick, I’ve been able to live my best life. And right now, I don’t feel lonely. I’m actually starting to enjoy the little time I get to have to myself.
Morgan’s Tips for Fighting Loneliness
1. Join an app
I can safely say that my biggest regret is not joining a friend app sooner. In February I joined the app Vina! that allows women a safe place to connect. Through it I met one of my best friends here in Portland, along with many other great women. Without this app I would have been without all the brunches, happy hours, and late night ice cream runs that I’ve enjoyed in the last seven months.
2. Get involved in groups
This year I joined the 2017 Provisional Class of the Junior League of Portland. As a legacy member, I’ve always wanted to be in Junior League, and I am so happy to have joined and met other community-conscious women. Plus we just have a lot of fun!
But before I joined Junior League, I found it very difficult to find a club to join post-college. So definitely do the research and find something that follows your passion. For me, I am a big believer in giving back to my community and brunch, so JLP was a great fit for me. But some people will find these clubs more rewarding: running group, cinema society, book club, cultural society, and many more that are in your area.
3. Spend time out of the house
No matter where you live, you can always find a place to go outside. On days where the loneliness is too much, I will literally go to the mall and just walk around exploring. There are lots of people and that can be all the help I need. Same with parks and Trader Joe’s. Sometimes being around people is more than enough to combat that nasty feeling.
4. Plan time for your comfort zone
My comfort zone is my parents. And being around them always makes me feel better. That’s why I now try to go home (or find another way to see them) at least once a month. On the loneliest nights, knowing I’m going home soon and get to spend time with my parents and dog is more than enough to get me out of an anxiety attack.
5. Schedule one activity a week
We’re all different, but I find if I have at least one social activity planned a week I’m good. So that’s what I do. Whether it’s a Junior League meeting, happy hour with a friend, or a marketing event, I force myself out of the house at least once.
6. Turn loneliness into mindfulness
This is a trick I learned in anxiety counseling, but it has changed my life. When I start to feel a panic attack I think about something in the room. Let’s take my laptop keyboard. I think about how it feels on my fingers, the sound it makes, it’s purpose, etc., and before I know it, my panic attack has usually faded to a more manageable level. This works with just about anything, and there are lots of apps and websites that have guided mindfulness sessions.
7. Find an loneliness activity
When I do feel lonely, and it feels like a pressing emotion, I find an activity. Currently it has been calligraphy, but previously it has been Sims, colouring, and baking. This activity needs to be busy enough to distract the mind, but simple enough that it can be accessed easily. I always keep my calligraphy kit on my counter so I can quickly grab it and practice my strokes the minute I feel the numbness of loneliness.
Thank you for reading! As we fight this nasty fire here in Oregon, my thoughts are with everyone around the world dealing with the many natural and political disasters happening currently. Please stay safe!
Stay classy, Internet,