One of the times that I have felt the loneliest is when I was in a group of over 300 people. Loneliness is complicated. Can I get an a-men here?! Loneliness is usually associated with a myriad of other emotions, that is what makes it complicated. It is hard to exactly figure out all that goes into it.
My husband invited me to join him at a conference dinner. I was so looking forward to going with him. It was to be an evening filled with dressing up, amazing food, entertainment and, for me as an extrovert, a group outing. I love meeting and getting to know new people. How is it that I came to feel so lost and alone?
The conference was for computer techies sharing the latest and greatest in the field of computer software development. The venue was the Field Museum in Chicago. How cool was that?! The food was probably the best that I have ever had at a conference dinner and I have attended a lot of conferences in my life, so that is saying a lot.
How did the loneliest come in? Soon after we got there I felt that I did not belong. I started to feel unworthy. First, other than my husband, I knew no one there. The average age of the group was at least 25 years younger than I. As far as I could tell I was one of very few non-conference guests, leaving me out of the days programs and interactions. All of the conversations revolved around the conference, upcoming technology, debates on the latest electronics and I could not keep up with any of it. To be honest, I had no idea what most of them were talking about no clue to the lingo that they were using and no chance of understanding the in-jokes.
I felt isolated. In addition, because the venue was so open and large, the noise level was high and the guest so tech orientated, a large part of the conversation was happening in the form of texts, Instagram, and tweets. Totally out of my comfort zone and realm of knowledge. It took me the longest time to figure out what everyone was doing. Lost. I was lost surrounded by people.
The definition of lonely is; being without company, cut off from others, sad from being alone and producing a feeling of bleakness or desolation. I felt all of that and more. It could be that I set my expectations too high as I was preparing for the event. Kind of like Christmas, the buildup can sometimes shadow the actual event. My negative emotions took hold and I truly was lost in a sea of people.
I want to be clear, I daily seek times to be alone and bask in the peace and calm. Those times are my solitude, a choice that is anticipated. This was different. This was loneliness.
Loneliness can be brought on by so many different events and/or combinations of emotions. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with yours and the world’s problems running amok in your head? That is another time that I have felt lost and alone. No one can understand everything that is going on in my head, basically because I can’t. Have you ever felt alone after an argument with a family member or friend? Overwhelmed, sadness, hopeless, worthless are all emotions that I find attached to feeling lonely. I know that I am not alone in my feelings.
Recent studies show that over half of the people in the United States experience loneliness. 40% said they “lack companionship,” their “relationships aren’t meaningful,” and that they feel “isolated from others.” (Cigna study reported by NPR). How can this be in a world where we are so widely connected with social media? Is it the cause? I don’t know the answer to that.
Loneliness is real, it is painful. I have wanted to address this subject for some time. Henrieta and I are working on a few workshops on ways to educate people and develop positive actions to overcome it. We will let you know when they are available.
A couple of weeks ago my Pastor’s sermon was about how we were created to be in relationships. My Pastor ended the sermon with an invitation for us to actively cultivate companionship.
Read what the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:7-12;“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps. But if there’s no one to help, tough! Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”
We would love to hear your thoughts on loneliness. Let’s come together and have a conversation about it.
Have you ever felt alone?