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The Lonely Files: Part 1

September 14, 2010

Yesterday, Julie, Lindsey and I had a conversation about loneliness. You can read more about Julie’s frustrations with the lonely experience in her post, Lonely Struggles.

In high school I was never lonely. I was active in bunches of extracurricular activities. This made making friends easy. Two-a-day practices and bus rides traveling to games and tournaments forced friendships out of team mates. Hours spent on, behind, and around the stage made life long connections out of fellow theater kids. And any sort of leadership role left you with a long list of other peers dealing with the same issues of balancing a busy schedule, trying to complete your homework, and the drama of adolescence love. Peers you could relate too. Peers who understood you. Peers you could turn to when the pressure was thick.

At Edgewood College, the being involved outside of class just kind of continued, not to mention dorm-life. I was active on the Campus Activities Board, Student Government Association, worked in the Admissions Office, was an Ambassador, and became a Freshmen Orientation leader and an RA. I had visitors often, and my sophomore year RA suite was always filled with people. I liked it that way. I liked to be surrounded by the people I loved and felt that their energy fed my energy.

Transferring to Louisiana College was the same way. Meetings every evening of the week; SGA, Union Board, intermural flag football, planning this, discussing that. I became active in the college group of a church I started to attend. I was always going, going, going, in one direction or another. Always with a buddy on my side. I kept myself busy. I kept myself surrounded. I kept myself engulfed in the relationships I was building, rarely spending time on my own. Being alone just wasn’t for me; I was a people person. I was always with someone.

And then I moved to Texas.
When I was first living in Texas, I didn’t really know anyone.
I had a great job, in a wonderful office, with a group of very nice co-workers. All the people I worked with, however, were 15+ years older than me. I had work-friends, but at the time, this meant we were friends-at-work. We didn’t see each other after hours and our communicating took place in between the walls of the office building. We didn’t know very much about one another. No one truly knew me.

For just about one whole year, I kept the following schedule;
Wake up. Go to work. Leave work. Go to book store. Sit in corner and read. Go home. Go to sleep. Repeat.

At first, I didn’t realize I was lonely. I was occupying my free time with what I enjoyed doing; reading books, browsing shelves, flipping through magazines, writing, sipping coffee. But soon, my loneliness had snuck up on me and I had become a much different person than before. Looking back, I see the emptiness. Looking back, I see the darkness. But at the time, I just continued on, not realizing the need for community in my life. I didn’t see what was happening to my soul. I was pulling away from situations which led me to stand face to face with someone. I avoided talking to the cashiers at the store, I shut my door at the office, I avoided eye contact with anyone I came across. It seems I not only accepted my loneliness, I embraced it.

After a weekend to Madison to visit friends, I realized I WAS LONELY. I had a revelation about my dark lonely place being a “safe place” I was hiding in. I knew I needed to flip my life around. I was hungry for community, companionship, and real life peer contact. I was a PRO at being a good long distance friend. I spent a lot of time on AIM and MySpace, writing letters and sending cards, updating a blog for friends back home to read, and talking on the phone with old friends. But I hadn’t made any relationships in Texas.

I REALLY realized that things needed change during Thanksgiving weekend that year. My family had traveled up north for the holiday, and I had chosen to stay in Texas due to work. After watching the graduation episode of the first season of Laguna Beach, I was feeling sad and alone. [Go ahead. Judge away.] I decided that I needed to make a change. That day, I took two steps forward.

To be continued….

10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 14, 2010 11:38 am

    It can be really hard when you move to a new place and don’t know anyone. It’s fine when you are at school as you get to meet people all the time, but you start working it can be harder.

    • September 14, 2010 12:10 pm

      I agree! I’ll be talking about this more as the story is continued, but feeling this way is so common with young adults!!!

  2. September 14, 2010 12:44 pm

    I think it’s hard once you get out of school. I am lucky in that a lot of my friends from college live around me, but it’s definitely a lot harder to meet new people and form new community. You can still join stuff, but it’s not as easily accessible. I’m learning though!

  3. September 14, 2010 12:52 pm

    *Insert whining here* I want moooooooore!

  4. September 14, 2010 12:58 pm

    Girl!! I love your stories!!!

  5. September 14, 2010 1:31 pm

    I can definitely relate to this post. I think part of the feeling lonely for me (and maybe you can relate too) is the busy-ness I surrounded myself with during college. I was really active in our Student Activities as well as a sorority and worked 2 part time jobs. I related being busy with being happy. And now that I work one job and have graduated it has been harder to meet new people which meant my social calendar was not as full and I felt like I was missing something.

    Though I have many college friends still living in the city I live in now – things are different. I have changed and continue to try to put myself out there to meet new people and make new connections and better myself. I joined a Young Proffessional Group put on by the City Chamber of Commerce and also joined Team in Training to train for my first marathon. Those two small steps were very instrumental in me finding people who are interested in the things I am.

    I am excited to hear more of your story!

  6. September 14, 2010 1:32 pm

    What a well-written post – this had me captivated. I’ll be coming back to see what you did to turn it around:) I, too, watched (and liked) Laguna Bean Season 1 LOL

  7. September 14, 2010 7:32 pm

    I can completely relate to this. Goshdarn post-college twenties. On a more serious note, I think it’s hard to admit that you’re lonely – for me, at least. It was so comforting to read your post tonight and Julie’s earlier today – to know that others have found themselves in similar situations. It takes courage to blog about this type of stuff – I appreciate you sharing it with all of us!

  8. September 14, 2010 7:56 pm

    It’s definitely hard to meet people in a new place without the bond of school activities. I was in shook until I was 25 and then moved to a new city, alone and hated the entire thing. I was definitely lonely. Even now, five years later, I can’t say I’ve made my own friend to do girl things with.

  9. September 15, 2010 1:28 am

    “The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.” – Lorraine Hansberry

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