It is oft portrayed within books, TV and film that dying lonely, surrounded by cats is the numero uno, worst way to go. In my opinion, you could do worse than live out your days in the company of animals but pop culture won’t be told. Look at Bridget Jones and the subsequent tropes: didn’t you know that everyone NEEDS someone by their side, to be married by 30 and to slip away quietly as their 748 grandchildren look on?
Well actually, it turns out, you don’t actually need to be a certified ‘crazy cat lady’ to be lonely, no matter what they and tell you. In fact, you life could look full on the surface, but you may feel empty underneath.
We surround ourselves with people and experiences and things and noise, but are we forgetting the deeper connections we should be making, not just with others but with ourselves?
Q: What do you do if you find yourself feeling, actually, pretty lonely?
1. Curb Social Media
Oh god, don’t you know that comparison is the thief of joy? There’s not a lot worse than looking at the ‘gram and seeing people you know (or even people you don’t) having what looks like an amazing time. I wrote a piece a while back about learning to embrace JOMO. Stop scrolling – we should all know by now that most of social media edits out people’s failures, tears and rejection.
2 . Count Your friends
I remember back in the day, when MySpace (RIP) was a popularity contest and the more friends you had, the better. Your Top 8 became a Top 16 because you just couldn’t fit them all in. You may still be surrounded by hundred of acquaintances who are good for a wine and a natter, but it’s of much more value to have one or perhaps two super-friends that you know you could call at 4 am.
3. Check In
Ellen Scott wrote a really good piece for Metro recently about getting in touch with people you care about if something is worrying you. This really resonated with me as I’m the worst for this, worrying that I might be being annoying or odd for sending a message out of the blue. One of my friends recently died and I’ll forever be living with ‘what ifs’. As well as pulling yourself out of loneliness, you may potentially be sending a lifeline out to someone else.
4. Help Out
There are plenty of ways to contribute your time and volunteer for something. Signing up with a charity such as Age UK in which you can dedicate time via the phone or face-to-face to speak to elderly people who may really need you.
5. Be Okay with Being Alone
You can’t always be surrounded by people, and that’s okay. Sit with it, find out how it feels to be in your own company without distraction – you might surprise yourself.