Sunday Thoughts – On Change and Loneliness

Hello my dear readers,

They say emotional vulnerability is a sign of weakness, but I prefer it as a sign of strength in one’s sensibilities. All I know is that I walk confidently with open honesty and transparency of my life. I am no pretender.

Today’s post is all about the process of adapting to change and loneliness. The powerful emotions associated with it. How to deal with it. What to do when it all seems lost. The good stuff.

Loneliness is powerful. It can drive people to utter madness (read: suicide).

Allow me to illustrate. I moved from home to Kalamazoo, MI. My college friends are out and about living their lives, most having moved out of the area. I left all of my three friends back home when I left. I have one friend here who took me in and allowed me to live (basically for free) with him while I got my sh** together (getting clients, consistent income, etc.). Aside from minor interactions with my surrogate roommate, I am faced with the prospect of living alone and generally being alone, which makes me feel isolated from everyone.

I yearn for an intimate connection with other people. I am the type of person who appreciates the quality of my friendships, not the quantity. When I call you friend to your face, you are more than friend. I am there for you. It’s just how I roll.

As such, in this new place, I have had to make many adjustments to a new way of life. Getting my personal training career underway. Getting new clients and keeping my current clients happy. Figuring out the business aspects of running a gym (for future reference; I am not a gym owner). Finding an apartment to live in. Nonetheless, while the financial and career aspects of my life are demanding, challenging, and rewarding, they pale in comparison to the biggest change in my life.

Being single and finding people with whom I can share a deep, intimate connection. Friends.

Sometimes I find it very difficult to be alone. Being slightly introverted, I am okay with some alone time. But being slightly extroverted, I need connection with others so I don’t go crazy. I guess I’m an ambivert (have you heard of this?).

In any case, it’s been four weeks of living alone, sitting in coffee shops, bookstores, and bars, and I find myself struggling to form close, meaningful relationships with others. I didn’t know it got so hard after college.

You know what? Some people may never struggle with this in their lives. I am not speaking to you. Go. Be grateful.

But if you suffer from feelings of isolation and the pain associated with it, I am speaking to you.

Loneliness is a shank in the gut. It hurts. Bad. Worst of all, your inner voice takes advantage of your vulnerability and asks:

Will I ever find someone to spend my days with?
Can people open up about deeply personal topics?
Or am I just really awkward?
Am I too awkward for you?
Will you hang out without the need for formalities?
Should I really use tinder?
Can I approach you even if you have headphones on?
I would like to ask what you’re reading, but will you let me in to your life?
What’s a good conversation starter?

Basically, there’s a lot that goes on in your head. Where does it ultimately lead?

Paralysis by analysis. No action. This is no beuno.

Asking why we have these thoughts is pointless. It has gotten me literally nowhere really fast.

What you should be asking is twofold:
1) What about this situation is not perfect yet?
2) What can I do today to change it for the better?

I heard it once said that the quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you consistently ask.

For it is written: ask and you shall receive. Don’t focus on the loneliness. It will tear you apart viscerally.

So what do we do about the pain of loneliness?

My solution from my experience has been this: Take it on as a challenge toward growth. Energize your mind, body, and spirit in an effort to know and understand yourself during your alone time. To know yourself is to master yourself. Do not be mastered by self. This is a time to do something that millions of people ignore out of fear. Know your own fears, anxieties, and doubts. Wrestle with them. Take them down. Own them. Dismiss them. In that order. Know that your fears will never go away magically. You must develop a way of dealing with them effectively so that when they arise, they’re not devastating anymore. Knowing yourself is a crucial step in this process.

When you desperately need human interaction or presence, I recommend walking around a busy place such as a mall or bookstore. With a little courage and a deep breath, you can strike up a conversation about anything in these places. Or go to a movie by yourself (no shame in this at all. It’s helped distract me very well). You can also visit, join a group, and find out when they get together. The groups are based on interests/activities, which makes it easy for you to find like-minded people! Finally, when all else fails, give. Give to others. Write letters to family. Buy coffee for the person in line behind you. When you give people something to smile about, your heart beats faster because it is happy. Give generously, Give people a reason to say their day was special. This is the one act that can cure loneliness. 100%. 

In closing, all I know is this: pain is temporary. It has not come stay; it has come to pass. It will be superseded by success (the internal success of having risen to the challenge and conquered your fears).

I hope you found this article helpful. If you know someone who struggles with loneliness and adapting to change, pass this on to them. I would really appreciate it.

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