Hanging out by yourself is the new Snapchatting.
Red meat is bad for our health, not to mention for the environment. Driving your car every day is like committing environmental suicide. We should meditate in the morning, moisturise at night, and try to cut down on social media.
Have I forgotten anything else?
It’s becoming more and more complicated to live a healthy, balanced life with all these hidden, invisible rules we have to abide to.
Every year society comes up with a new diet, or ‘life prescription’ as I like to call them, on how to live a happier and more fulfilling life.
Want to be successful? Do this.
Want to feel healthier and fit? Drink this detox tea.
Do all of these things and increase your chance of finally feeling like you’re normal, like everybody else.
But it’s not just depression and feeling a failure that is spreading around like a zombie parasite; it’s loneliness that is killing everyone inside.
We are more connected and social than ever, considering that the average young person uses at least three social media applications to stay in contact with their peers.
However, we couldn’t be more lonely than this.
And being lonely is a scary feeling. It’s a dangerous underdog that paralyses you from making even the smallest decision, because you have been sitting there in your own silence for so long, that the refusal to act feels more comfortable than getting up and going after what you wish to do.
We are lonely AF. No doubts on that.
And I am not talking about the kind of ‘I am bored’ kind of loneliness. I am talking about the huge black hole we carry within ourselves every single day of our lives.
The crippling feeling of being invisible among a crowd, the way sound echoes and your heart beats too fast when you’re laying on your bed with absolutely no interest, or motivation to get up and do something.
Loneliness is killing us. Especially us, young people.
We are not afraid to share our feelings of anxiety and depression, but talking about being lonely is forbidden.
Loneliness is the millennial taboo. In an era where it’s impossible not to be connected with millions of people and spread ideas, dumb comments and feelings; feeling lonely is the dust we hide under a rug.
We hide it from our parents, who couldn’t possibly understand how somebody who is constantly using their phones can be lonely; nor we can explain how a social network like Facebook can make us feeling unhappy and lonely, when we are literally ‘connecting’ with other people.
It’s embarrassing and it’s leading us to become more depressed, anxious and frustrated than ever.
But how do we know that we are lonely?
Do you constantly check your Facebook feed, when you feel bored, or a bit sad?
Do you find it impossible to go out and spend time with yourself, unless there is a friend with you?
Do you feel inadequate and jealous when you see other people hanging out with their friends in public?
Do you constantly try to build relationships with people you just met, but you feel a bit stressed?
Do you constantly check your notifications and messages to see that if people have messaged you?
Do you search for the wrong people only to feel wanted?
If you have nodded and cringed at all these questions, because you actually do act like that, well first of all – don’t fear. Everybody has been lonely from time to time, there is no shame on this webspace.
Secondly, we are here to fix it.
As I have written on Instagram about being an only child and never feeling lonely, I am rarely scared of being by myself.
I long for that moment when everything else around me is in complete, still silence; it’s just me and the freedom of recording absurd Snapchat videos, or dance to Sean Paul in my grandma underwear.
I often grab a coffee by myself, pretending to read a book, when I am actually people watching business mums discussing the latest detox and yoga class over skinny cappuccino.
I live for those moments by myself.
But I also live for the moment when the space is noisy and crowded around me and I am touched by people’s energies; their feelings bouncing out of their bodies, laughter and arguments. I love it.
So I know a great deal of loneliness.
And I know that loneliness is not just feeling alone, as quite it means feeling incomplete, like you are endlessly searching for a missing puzzle.
It’s a horrible and haunting feeling that it took me years to shake off. Sometimes I still look back at the times I was most lonely and I get goosebumps from the pain and the suffering that I can still taste with my mouth today.
The first step is to accept that it’s completely normal to feel lonely.
It might not be Instagram-worthy to share that selfie of you feeling like you are the only noodle in this ramen world-cup, but everybody feels lonely. Even Kanye West.
Feeling lonely is a perfectly healthy reaction to something that is clearly disturbing us from within.
We just don’t wake up feeling like the apocalypse has broken onto Earth and we are the only survivors, just for nothing.
Dig deeper. Scratch that thought with your bare hands and find it. It’s scary, but you need to find the reason that triggers this feeling of loneliness.
It could be getting stuck into unsatisfactory friendships, or maybe we are immersed into a relationship that doesn’t really make us happy anymore
But before that, you have to accept it.
You have to accept that life can’t just be a never ending Beyoncé performance at the Superbowl (I wish); sometimes you have to deal with annoying advertising on constipation that you can’t skip in between the happy moments. (yep, just made a Superbowl metaphor).
So when you are sitting on your bed, listening to the same old screamo music you were listening to back into your old days and you feel like texting the worst person of all just to feel a bit of something – SIT THERE WITH YOUR loneliness. Accept it.
Once you accept it and sit up straight in lotus position and with the calming zen voice, you whisper – ‘I understand me’, you’re almost ready.
See, there is no point in accepting the fact that you are constantly engaging in self-loathing behavior, when you don’t make the effort to understand why.
And it’s not your fault; nowadays we do things without really investing what motives drive them.
I mean, think about the people who vote for Donald Trump, or those who deny climate change. Why? We don’t know, people are fucking stupid, that’s your standard answer, right?
Why am I feeling lonely? Because I am fucking stupid.
Nah, that is standard lazy emotional searching.
It’s playing the blaming game and the finger is pointed right at you. Or it could easily be pointed at somebody else.
I am feeling lonely because my parents never took care of me when I was younger. I am feeling lonely because I have no friends.
Alright, okay, it sucks and I hear you, but that’s not the correct answer.
You’re feeling lonely because you are hurt. Something has gotten under your skin like a tiny splinter that you can’t pick between your fingernails, so you are there hopeless, feeling like you can’t blame anybody but yourself.
You’re feeling lonely because you feel empty. Maybe something got stolen from you; maybe somebody grabbed that bit of sunshine on a Monday and turned it into a blinding light. People bruise you, scare you and toss your heart however they want.
But all it matters it that you are feeling lonely and you have to do something about it.
It’s not your job, it’s not your family and it’s not your partner.
It’s you right now. It’s not your fault, but you are not allowing yourself to rise up, when you are sitting on the ground, pushed by the weight of guilt and shame.
Ask yourself. What is it that is making me lonely?
You will be endlessly searching for answers, interviewing yourself as if you were sitting on Oprah’s couch.
Well, guess what, you are fucking Oprah right now, and you have to pull yourself out of this black hole.
ACT ON IT.
This is the last step to build a loneliness shield around yourself.
You can’t get to this step unless you embrace the ones explained above. No skipping, because if you ignore the accepting and the understanding, you are just running yourself out in circles.
So now you know why you’re feeling lonely. It’s the friend and her snarky comments; it’s being homesick, it’s feeling like I am running around with no real destination. Alright, I am sorry to hear that, and it’s great that you got there.
It takes a great deal of courage to face the hard truth.
But now something needs to change. You wouldn’t change your eating habits without actually cutting the unhealthy food and a good exercise routine, right?
Well, avoiding loneliness is exactly the same. You need a plan, and you need to stick to it.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it has to be simple and specific enough for you to know exactly what’s happening.
Once you have found the things that trigger feelings of loneliness, you don’t have to quit cold turkey. You have to find healthier substitutes.
People always think that quitting something is going to immediately change things; like the dramatic act of denial is going to empower you enough to stick to your decision.
It doesn’t work like that. Discipline and commitment are what gets you stick to your decision.
And again, this can’t happen without real understanding of what the hell you are actually doing and feeling.
So write on a piece of paper your triggers and find healthy substitutes. Don’t be shy, ask a friend who deals with similar things, or is able to understand, what they would substitute the thing with. If you really can’t bring yourself to say anything, then Google is your best friend.
The options are endless. Here are a few of the things that I do on a daily basis to beat feelings of loneliness.
So grab a book, go for a dip in the ocean, or get a massage. Spoil yourself at times where you need yourself the most. You don’t understand how close is your hand to you, when you are desperately grasping for it in the dark.