Loneliness is something I think we have all felt at some point, and though London is crammed with over 8 million residents yet, it is one of the places that I have found it hardest to meet new people.
When I first relocated to the capital, my best friend and boyfriend moved down at the same time, then gradually over the next few years more and more of our friends flocked south in the hope of finding a job. So though not lonely, and luckier than many moving to a new city, I lingered in the safety of my established group, instead of stepping out of my comfort zone to meet the fellow residents of my new home. This was wonderful to begin with, but I soon grew envious of my friends and their seemingly endless new social circles.
I started working in Topshop, Selfridges as soon as I moved down; the people I met there were a great introduction to London life, they happily recommended cool places for me to check out as a newbie and were also amazing sources for style inspiration, but despite their friendliness they all had their own lives which I did not fit in with on a social level.
I enjoyed the buzz of retail, but going from a manager back to minimum wage was not where I wanted to be in my career, the hours were dreadful for maintaining the little social life I had. So I moved on feeling educated in London lifestyle but without the group of cool city friends that I had anticipated.
My current job working for a charity is a wonderful environment, however the gentlemen I work with are a little older than me, have families and lives outside of London so don’t really want to hang out either. Don’t get me wrong I am not sitting in alone on a Friday night crying into a glass of wine but over the past four years I feel like I have become increasingly reliant on my boyfriend and friends from university to be my event managers.
While obviously I love my friends, I am used to being self reliant and increasingly began to feel that I was simply tagging along, providing very little in our relationship leaving me insecure and, at times, lonely.
I had gotten to a stage where finding my own group of friends was similar to that awkward occurrence when you have met someone several times but have no clue what their name is. I had been in London for almost 4 years and felt like it was too late in the game to start trying to introduce myself.
If you had said to me a few years ago that the best way of finding people to connect with was through the Internet I probably would have snorted and sarcastically said “yeah if you want to get murdered”. Jokes aside, you obviously have to be extremely careful when making friends online. I started out by reading blogs and commenting on posts that I could relate to or particularly enjoyed, encouraged by the positivity and variety of writers I had stumbled across I then took the leap into writing my own.
After collecting evidence (in the form of comments) that people were actually reading my blog, I felt confident enough to start getting involved in Twitter chats. The first one I participated in I could barely keep up with, but as with most things I just needed to persevere. Eventually I got the hang of it and began talking to people from all over the world. These chats have now become part of my weekly routine and I look forward to catching up with my Internet friends.
Not only has blogging opened up a world of cyber buddies and opportunities, but real live ones, too. I have mentioned before how anxious I get before social events, this is especially true when meeting a bunch of strangers as new blogger. Though I still need to take deep breaths, go armed with Imodium and am internally freaking out, recently I have felt a small shift in my attitude and actually look forward to events. This is mainly due to the people I have met along the way, with each opportunity I force myself to go into I have begun to recognise faces and now have some awesome blogging buddies.
Last week I attended two events, the first one was with Joe Bloggers, a network who bring together brands and bloggers. I have been to a couple of events with these guys and they are a great way of breaking into the blogging social circle. This event was an evening of prosecco, pizza and Monopoly with L&G Investments.
The purpose of the evening was to get us to think about investments by playing the property based board game, and quickly reminded me how terrible I am at both finances, and games. I was definitely the loser on my table, however, I did do a great job of eating pizza and drinking prosecco.
The next event was the Spring Blogger Meet set up by Jasmine and Maryam, this was not a sponsored event and was a laid back way for bloggers to hang out and get to know one another. After a stroll around Hyde Park in the sun we headed to the Mitre pub for a couple of drinks and a relaxed lunch.
In between sipping on my pint and talking nonsense I had the realisation of how comfortable I felt. Suffering from anxiety, comfort is not something that comes easy to me. This little glimmer made reflect on how I had transformed over the last few months: I used to be a nervous wreck even when I joined in with an online chat in case I didn’t belong and now I was happily hanging out with a bunch of girls that I had only met a couple of times, or not at all.
I didn’t start sharing my life on the Internet to get freebies or to be invited to events, I wanted to create a space where I could express myself and hopefully make connections. Finding people with such common ground has been the best unexpected benefit in blogging, I never anticipated that putting my words on the Internet could blur so heavily into my everyday life while also building my confidence.
I think that loneliness is something that we have all suffered from at one point or another but is a topic that is rarely talked about due to it being seen as weakness. Feeling lonely is also one of those awful emotional cycles, with it comes self doubt, leading to further isolation.
I got so frustrated being in this place of negativity and self hatred, that I went into blogging with a Dr Pepper “what’s the worst that can happen” attitude (after about 100 edits and waiting a month) I published my first post publicly. From that instant I felt relief because even if no one read it at least I had tried.
Sharing so much of myself has taken me way past my comfort zone, but I believe that without fear and pushing past our limits (wherever the may be) we never know what we can truly amount to.
This is not a post intended to caress my own ego or to encourage everyone to go out and start a blog, I am trying to say that for me breaking that cycle of solitude, whether with a successful action or failure, was better than staying in the dark isolation that I had become accustomed to, which is summed up much more eloquently by Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Ultimately I think that we are all looking to connect, whether that be online, in the real world, by putting ourselves out their to be judged or by reaching out to others.
What do you guys think? How do you tackle loneliness?