You walk into a café filled with people sipping on coffee and chatting with each other. You grab a coffee to go, walk through the bustling streets with earphones in, spend the day working in your cubicle, and end the night alone in your apartment with take-out and Netflix. Sometimes, even though we spend our days surrounded by others, we feel a great sense of loneliness.
Loneliness is not an unusual condition.
Though it feels isolating, loneliness is a universal condition we all experience.
Thomas Wolfe once wrote, “The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.”
We can think of loneliness as a desire for connection. A desire that is a very healthy and human trait, one we should not shy away from.
Why are some more lonely than others?
Have you ever heard that Seattle is the place of lonely souls? Well, it is true. Some areas are less likely to make you feel alone, while others, for various reasons, are prone to cause its citizens to feel isolated.
Seattle is, according to a survey by the health and wellness site Sharecare, one of the lowest ranked cities regarding social ties. This study ranks cities according to a few different factors such as the number close friendships and family visits.
There are several key reasons that Seattle produces a feeling of loneliness among its residents:
- There are more transplants than natives in Seattle.
- Its a career focused city with major companies like Microsoft and Amazon located there.
- Most Seattle residents are living alone with 20% of men and 21% of women residing solo, according to the Census.
- There are no kids. Well, that's exaggerating, but it does have the second-lowest rate of children among big cities in America.
- It is the second-least-religious city in America says the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.
- You do not have to be religious to be happy but, religion is one way to get immediate access to a community.
- The Seattle weather is out of an Edgar Allan Poe story. It rains often, gets dark early and can get pretty chilly which encourages people to keep indoors.
So, it is not uncommon that Seattle-ites feel a bit lonely at times. The important thing is to do? Acknowledge the outside forces that cause feelings of loneliness and then implement practices that combat the isolation.
Responding to your loneliness.
Perhaps the worst thing we can do when feeling lonely is resent it. Loneliness may not be feeding all of your current needs, but when we show it compassion, we find room to grow and learn more about ourselves. Instead of indulging in negative thoughts that tell you-you're not good enough, embrace the opportunity to get reconnected with yourself. What do you need, what are some personal goals you can set for yourself, and can you learn to relish in this time of self-care?
Learning to move forward.
Once we acknowledge that loneliness is nothing to feel ashamed of, we can learn to engage in activities and thinking that promote happiness and connection. Whether you are in a lonely city like Seattle, or just going through a change in your life that makes you feel cut-off from the rest of the world, there are plenty of easy steps you can take to get back to being social.
Some of these steps may be:
- Taking action to make plans or host events.
- Seeking out face-to-face meetups rather than social media connections.
- Using meet up companies that host events where you can make new friends.
- Attending therapy to help expel negative thoughts about yourself.
- Working to expand your social circle.
Above all, realize that your loneliness is not a reflection of your character. We all experience loneliness in our own way, and it is a natural feeling. Rejoice in your desire to connect and take steps to accomplish better social ties in your day-to-day.