A lot of people are under the assumption that loneliness is only associated with people who are over 75, but this simply isn’t the case. More young people, millennials in particular, are feeling lonelier than ever. Did you know that in Britain 18-34 year old’s are more likely to feel lonely or depressed than people who are over the age of 55? And to add to that, research from the Office of National Statistics revealed that the U.K is now the loneliest country in Europe.
Isolation, a component of loneliness, can have an extremely negative impact on your state of mind. As a millennial, isolation is something I’ve definitely familiarized myself with: life experiences will inevitably play a part in the formation of your character as you get older. Many of us have programmed our minds to believe that distance is the best (and only) way to avoid any disappointment. I can’t help but think if sometimes, we are the cause of our own feelings of loneliness?
I experienced one of my first severe bouts of loneliness in 2017. I had just gotten out of what was a very toxic relationship, I was studying for a qualification I wasn’t even sure I wanted and my brother’s autism had begun to deteriorate. My feelings of loneliness peaked as I sunk into my own pint-sized bubble. Self sufficiency almost became some sort of drug: the feeling of doing everything for myself consumed me. My ‘I don’t need nobody’ phase was in full effect. Family and friends were at the receiving end of my ever increasing need for distance. As far as I was concerned, I needed to be alone because too many people and too many things had let me down. Nurturing yet intensifying my emotional scars became a way of life.
It wasn’t until I mustered up the courage to go to therapy a year later that my therapist called me out on my actions (in a professional manner of course). She said that I was scared of rejection (which was true) and that I wouldn’t be able to maintain the relationships in my life if I didn’t make an effort to reach out. The words ‘reach out’ left me with a lump in my throat. As far as I was concerned, I didn’t want to reach out. The walls I had put up were extensive enough to keep everything as far away from me as possible. As time went on, my eyes were opened to the reality that everyone is fighting battles of their own. As challenging as ‘reaching out’ may be, a lot of us don’t do it simply because our strong-willed nature has obstructed us from putting our energy into things that may not give us instant gratification such as our careers or hobbies, for example.
The reality of your 20’s is that life will serve you many ups and downs so having a circle of people you can talk to and trust is vital. The most important thing to remember about loneliness is that it’s temporary. If you are currently dealing with loneliness in your 20’s, here are some things you should consider:
Be kind to yourself – This is one of the hardest things to do, especially when you’ve become accustomed to feeding your mind with nothing but worry. A lot of us find it easier to be kind to others but harder to be kind to ourselves. This is a hard realization to comprehend as we spend most of our time with ourselves, so why do we struggle so much with self-praise? At some point in our lives, some of us may have been conditioned to believe that administering self-praise is an act for the vain or self-centered. We also may not have been in environments where self-praise was encouraged, so of course this would undoubtedly cause some issues with how we see ourselves.
Reach out to people – One of the biggest struggles modern millennials face is ‘friendships’ and everything to do with friendships. Things change a great deal when you’re in your 20’s and sometimes it is hard to touch base with the people around you. If this is something you struggle with, make a habit of checking in on a friend once a week. This may involve seeing how they are or even arranging an outing etc. If you’ve got a ‘people need to approach me first’ kind of mindset, you will struggle with your friendships, firstly because everyone doesn’t think the way you do and secondly, we aren’t mind readers! Effort should always be a dual requirement in any relationship so criticizing others for not doing things that you don’t do yourself isn’t fair…so reach out to someone you care about today.
Find out what’s causing you to have such thoughts/feelings – As mentioned in my previous point, conditioning is a thing! We may forget about certain experiences but they play a role in the decisions that we make. Some people struggle with building relationships because they may have been hurt in the past: others have their own reasons. Once you are able to find out why you’ve plunged both of your feet into the pool of loneliness, you can start having a better relationship with yourself and with others. This isn’t easy and it will take a lot of work (see earlier paragraph about my experiences with therapy) but it is possible to reprogram your mind and come out stronger than ever, no matter what you’ve been through.
Stop looking for validation – You are enough. Seeking and living off the approval of others will get you nowhere – that’s family, friends, coworkers etc. It’s nice to be liked and its great to be respected but the truth is you will not be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s OK. Wondering why certain individuals won’t warm to you is a waste of time. Focus on the people who do love and care about you. A person’s reluctance to build a friendship or a relationship has more to do with them than it does you. We can only be responsible for our actions, not everyone else’s.
Live your best life – Giving into loneliness in some form is a thing we have probably all experienced: closing yourself off from the world and indulging in a Netflix binge has become a self-care craze within itself. As nice as this may be, don’t permanently close yourself off to real-life experiences. Find the things that you love to do and do more of them! Travel alone, take yourself out to lunch, read your favourite book, call a family member, take a walk etc. There are multiple things you can do to enrich the quality of your life. Don’t be the woman who cancels her plans entirely just because she has nobody to go out with – be the woman who dusts her shoulders off and experiences what the world has to offer anyway!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post. Have you ever experienced loneliness in your 20’s or even your 30’s? How did you manage to get through that particular period in your life? What tips would you give to anyone who is currently battling loneliness? If you are currently experiencing loneliness and you need someone to talk too, feel free to send me an email xo