3 Baby Steps for When You Feel Completely and Utterly, Lonely

Photo Credits: NASA

I’m not going to start this off by saying that you’re this amazing and wonderfully kick-ass person that, if only people could just wake up from their stupor and realize how amazing you are, you wouldn’t be feeling so lonely.

However, you’re simultaneously responsible for your loneliness and so completely valid in feeling this emotion. Don’t blame yourself, accept it. In fact, envision you holding out this loneliness in front of you, a mere observer of it.

it’s not your fault, but what you do with this feeling that is passing through the home that is your mind (or rather, bull-dozing its way through your mind) is your responsibility. And I want to give you a couple of tools to rebuild the beautiful chaos that it made.

1. Write a love letter to a stranger.

You are a person, and by being a person, you are worthy of love. You also have a huge reserve of love to give. It might surprise you just how much. A couple years ago, I came across a website called www.moreloveletters.com. At the time, I felt terribly lonely. I was a freshman at a new university, 260km away from home for the first time. Perpetually shy and seeing all my attempts thus far at making friends fail, it felt like my loneliness boxed me in. Then I discovered More Love Letters. It requires just two minutes of your time, an envelope, paper, a pen, and a stamp, and you could truly make somebody’s day. And isn’t that the kind of serendipitous and pure connection often written about in poems?

2. Using our phones to get off our phones.

I know, this sounds paradoxical, like those clickbait motivational videos you scroll by that tell you that you need to get off your phone and break out of the “system” while ironically paying advertising money to show up on your phone in the first place. Their message is noble, although I think that the message resides from sprouting a seed of shame in you to get you moving. That being said, whoever did anything willingly and found a positive experience through being shamed to do it? What could be advocated for is to use your phone as a launching pad for more offline interactions. Look through your friends list, find three people whom you enjoy their company or want to get to know better, and send a quick message asking if they’re free sometime in the near future to get coffee. There have been times where I spiralled into an all-encompassing shame jail cell where I believed that there wasn’t anyone I was willing to talk to and no one who would want to talk to me. However, when I gave myself permission to accept that these feelings of shame were there and that yes, there will be awkward moments. I set off to accomplish one small goal, to reach out to three people. That’s it. There wasn’t any out-of-my-control expectation that these three people would be people I could instantly hit it off with and be best friends. In fact, I didn’t even expect that any would reply. What I did want to do, was take that baby step.

As it turned out, taking this baby step has made all the difference. I have been able to reconnect with old friends and new acquaintances. I got to know the stories of people that I normally just pass by in class or taken for granted on my Facebook friends list.

3. Volunteer

Scientific American recently published an article on how volunteering can help the public health crisis of loneliness in many ways. A 2018 study in the UK showed that widowed adults felt significantly lower than their married cohorts, after volunteering for two or more hours per week their level of loneliness reduced to be comparable to the level of adults. In a sense, if widowed adults could reduce their loneliness who have suffered a massive loss, what is to say that you can’t either? Not only is it a meaningful way to connect and make new friends, but it also allows you the opportunity to realize your impact and ability to help others rather than snuff it out. Truthfully, I’ve met some of the most interesting people (and people who I still connect to, to this day) through volunteering. An added bonus: you can start from where your interests lie. Love dogs? There are animal shelters and adoption agencies you can volunteer with. Love talking to wise people? You can volunteer at a local senior centre. Want to help sea turtles because you loved that rad turtle from Finding Nemo while travelling to beautiful places? You can volunteer for that.

So I hope that these baby steps can help you when you feel completely and utterly lonely. In fact, just by you reading this article, I have been able to connect to you.

Also, did you realize that by the end of this article, you already took a step forward?

(Mental high-five!)

So, do you know what that means? You are completely, without a doubt capable and worthy to take the next one.

Masters in Planning student at the University of Toronto, a lifelong lover of birds, and (critically?) bumbling my way through life