My last post about loneliness was met with a loud cry of solidarity. Which left me with the question:
Why are so many people lonely?
There are so many ways to connect. But we don’t. Not really anyway.
We “like” what people are doing or we comment on how others are spending their time, but we aren’t interacting more than giving them a notification on their social network of choice.
I’ve had so many conversations with people recently about how alone they feel. It’s not as if these are the kind of folks who spend their days cooped up in their houses. These are individuals with “lives”; they go to school, work, church, and consider themselves to have friends.
Yet, they all have the same complaint: Others don’t reach out.
So, if the majority of people aren’t trying to include people in their life in meaningful ways and the majority of people also feel lonely, where is the overlap?
In my previous post, Loneliness and the Lost Art of Friendship, I point to the lack of meaningful connection for those of us whose schedules preclude pre-packaged interaction that comes with structured activities like groups and clubs; pretty much, if you show up to the same place I show up to at the same time I show up- we’re friends.
I also make mention of the fact that we may be lonely because we’re looking the wrong direction.
We think certain people owe us their effort because…why?
Because we know their name? Because you have similar schedules? Because your kids get along?
I’ve been wondering recently why I think certain people should be contacting me.
The hardest part? Realizing that no one owes me anything. No one owes me their attention. No one owes me their time.
All the energy that I put out waving my arms and begging for attention is my energy.
When it comes to loneliness, I’ve come to a difficult question: Who is waving their arms at me?
I’ve wondered the same about those who have voiced they are also lonely. Is anyone waving their arms at them? Is anyone vying for their attention? Are we just looking at the wrong people, going to the wrong places, or ignoring those who would happily call themselves our friend?
I am super guilty of ignoring waving arms.
Since that post, I’ve been looking around and I’ve noticed when I ask someone to hang out that I have wrongfully put on some sort of social back burner they will happily make time for me. We all have these acquaintances, our second or even third string friends. The last to be invited to intimate gatherings and the first to be cut from a trimmed-up guest list.
I’m not as alone as I feel. I’ve quit trying to be part of some kind of club. Cliques exist as adults same as in school and I have put so much time and effort trying to be part of my perceived, “in-crowd” or the people it “makes sense” for me to be friends with that I have shamefully ignored or passed over those who are seeking me out. I’ve said, “If they won’t be my friends than no one will”. How ridiculous is that?
Like any good coach, if your first string is leaving you high and dry on the field, bench ’em and if they don’t improve in the off season, you may need to cut them from the team.
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/rosauraochoa/3256859352/”>Rosaura Ochoa</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>