Ever been in a crowded room and felt alone? I have. Ever felt like you have no friends? I have. Ever felt like no one really cares? I have. Ever felt like everyone else has good friends who love and adore them but somehow you do not? I have. That may come as a surprise to you but it’s true. I have, at times felt all of those things. In fact, I used to be lonely and then I was not.
I Used To Be Lonely
The reason I am writing this post is because I know I am NOT alone in having felt lonely. Some of you feel lonely now. My hope is that my sharing will be of some comfort to you. Because loneliness happens. I used to be lonely until I got tired of wondering what was wrong with me and realized what needed to change.
Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
Yup, just like the Jimmy Buffett song goes (gosh I still miss him), changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes nothing remains quite the same. Different seasons of life find us in very different circumstances. Where I was once a busy mom, working full time and constantly needing be somewhere I seemed to wake up one day to a different reality. Sure it didn’t actually happen overnight but it kinda felt that way. My kids grew up and became more independent. My husband had a hobby that became a passionate side hustle. My friends, started careers and moved away. Everything changed except me.
I Thought It Was Me
I cannot remember the day I actually felt lonely. But I remember being at an event and looking around at everyone and thinking I could slip out the door right now and no one would even notice I was gone. Social media let me know more than once that I was not invited to some things by people I thought were my friends. Had I misjudged? Did I value the friendship more than they did? Did they think I was negative and not good company? Did they think I had nothing to offer? I thought it was me.
It didn’t happen overnight but I eventually figured out that it was me but not in the sense I had originally thought. I had not done anything and I certainly wasn’t being treated like an outcast. It is easy to fall down the whole woe is me rabbit hole but I was determined to get to the bottom of things. What I honestly wanted was a full and happy life, to feel like I was making a difference and to feel valued and loved. So when I say it was me, I mean it was me who needed to change some things – mostly my perspective.
Rather than spending time complaining and feeling sorry for myself I decided I was not going to be lonely anymore. In this season of life I needed to figure out what I wanted to be doing and I needed to do it. If I wasn’t invited to events I would not take it personally. Instead I’d ask myself when was the last time I hosted an event and invited these people, or when was the last time they invited me and I didn’t go. The truth is you get out of things what you put into them. How could I expect people to consider my feelings if I wasn’t doing the same? Let me be clear here, I did not lose these friendships, they just changed. There were no fights, no ugly arguments, just the gentle slipping away and erosion of the everyday-in-my-life interactions.
I also changed my perspective about what other people were doing. Social media shows the highlights of people’s lives but not necessarily the truth. Was I really missing out? Would I really find what I was seeing fun? In all honesty I find some social events exhausting. I like alone time and I don’t really enjoy big groups – so what was I complaining about anyway?
How I Became Not Lonely
This process has taken years. Really. I am not even kidding, it’s been a process. Guess what? Sometimes I still feel a little lonely. But it usually passes quickly and serves as good feedback for me. The first thing I did was pursue a creative passion – the blog. That was in 2016 (this blog will be 8 in April). I opened myself up to blogging friendships and found out that there was a way to have deep and real relationships regardless of distance. Something else I did? Joined a group at church for moms – get this, the group is for ALL moms, no matter the age of your children. The biggest blessing to me has been connecting with other middle aged women – something I would not have found so easily had it not been for my church. In the last year I reconnected with my sorority’s alumnae association and that has helped fill my social calendar with all kinds of fun events. Picking up friendships from years ago feels a lot like coming home in some ways and I look forward to each and every time we get together.
It has been work, and the work has mostly been ME taking responsibility for my life and making the changes I needed. Happiness is an inside job. No one does the hard work for you, nor should they. Relationships change but rather than pine away and grieve what was, why not open your eyes to what’s in front of you – the possibilities are endless if you avail yourself.
Hoping this Helps
So friends, I am hoping this helps. It’s not always easy to be vulnerable but I know I am not the only one who feels this way. I used to be lonely but I am not anymore.