Not only is loneliness the kind of thing that comes with a sliding scale without clear boundaries, but also it’s a process that is hard to see from the outside. It often looks like depression or shyness, it disguises itself so that others see you as aloof, keeping your distance or unapproachable. Rarely will people come to the conclusion that you might be feeling immensely lonely before they have exhausted everything else on the list.
But how about yourself? Can you tell when you are lonely? Or is it something that is mixed in with feeling inadequate, shy, unexperienced or socially awkward?
I have found that I’m pretty good with being on my own, but that is not the same as not being lonely. These past 12 months, I have been in the physical presence of friends maybe a dozen times – of course I have been close to other people when doing groceries or taking a walk outside, but that is not really an exchange that relates to feeling lonely. In a way, I have had a hard time to determine what is ‘being on my own’ and ‘feeling lonely’, simply because there was no chance to meet others in meaningful ways.
Of course, there was zoom – a lifesaver for many – and phone calls, emails, etc. but those are not quite the same: they lack the personal touch. And there we are: I can’t speak for you, but for me, being lonely equals ‘not being able to touch others and be touched by them’. And this is not about sex at all: a year without hugs is a long time.
Like many others, I have been on my own for far too long, and I have settled into that sense of repetitiveness and boredom, that sense of being on my one all the time. It has helped me focus more on work (when it was available), but I’m sure that is a coping mechanism to cover up the wounds that being alone and feeling lonely have inflicted upon me.
I would have to be pushed quite hard to admit any level of loneliness myself, because I cannot really tell just how lonely I might be. I keep telling myself “others are even worse off” and “I can cope with this”, but I’m starting to wonder if this is something I know for sure or if it is just something my mind has come up with to keep me going…
Ask yourself if YOU can honestly tell where you are on the loneliness scale.
These are my own thoughts on aspects of my work I feel strongly about.