October 8, 2017 | life

On Loneliness, Isolation and Being an Introvert

*Deep breath* Well, this is a pretty tough post to write. I’ve umm’d and ahh’d about whether or not to write it but I’ve reached a chuck-caution-to-the-wind kinda place and I’m just biting the bullet. So, here goes, confession time: I’ve been experiencing really heavy feelings of loneliness and isolation recently. And just admitting that out loud makes me feel silly and embarrassed, but to whatever extent someone can relate or it might help somebody else, I’ve gotta be willing to put myself out there.

So, for background: I’m single, I live alone, I’m an introvert. That’s a pretty heady cocktail right there. I love all of those three things in and of themselves, but sometimes, they just whip themselves up into a weird not-particularly-tasty stew, that I didn’t order.

I really love my life. I have a career I adore, I live in a wicked area, my family are amazing (though too far away for my liking), I have a puppy – he rocks. But every now and then, this internal narrative starts with a whisper; ‘You have no friends, no one cares about you, you’re alone, it’s just you.’ That swirls around my head a little. If it happens to be around the time I’m menstruating, I can just rack it up to ‘well, ain’t these hormones a bitch!’ and be all logical and rational about it. But then other times, that whisper just makes itself louder and louder until it finally all came to a head last Saturday and I spent the majority of the day in my flat weeping, that kinda snot and mascara filled breathless weeping that you have no control over. In fairness, it’d been a while since I’d had one of those peak-level sobs, so I think I was just overdue and crying about a ton o’ shit and we all need to do that sometimes so, whatevs.

But back to the loneliness and isolation thing. It ain’t a nice feeling. Logically, I know I have friends, great ones at that. I know if I were to tell them this, they’d be pretty horrified that I feel this way and they’d have my back (as proof, I’ve told a couple of those said friends over the past week and they responded exactly like that). But in the moment, when that narrative is doing a real number on you and dialing it all the way up to Dynasty-level drama, not only do you have no friends, NO ONE likes you or sure, you might have people who are friends, but you’re not really a priority to them, 10 people rank before you, you can’t really go to them with your problems.

Then you factor in what I do for a living: I spend all my days being a beacon of light and positivity and motivation for people as a spin instructor. I adore what I do and put my entire soul into it every time. I don’t think anyone could ever accuse me of half arsing my job. When you do what I do, at the level and with the passion and intensity with which I do it, as glorious as it is, it is exhausting. Constantly giving your energy to other people – there are times I get off that bike and it’s all I can do to just lie down in a dark room. I have nothing left. Nothing for me. And I have no one who really understands the intensity of that and the toll it takes.

Side note: what do I look for in a man? One who’ll see what I do for a living, show up after one of my classes, give me a lift home, cook me dinner, look after me a little bit, then go home ’cause he understands I need to be up at 4am.

From conversations I’ve had with people lately, I’m seen as a super strong woman, who has her shit together and doesn’t need anything. First of all, thanks! *hair flick* I’m definitely strong, I do have my shit together (to a reasonable degree), but damn, sometimes all that makes me feel like I have no space to be vulnerable, ya know? And damn, being vulnerable ain’t exactly my strong suit to begin with but when you know there are a ton of people looking at you as the strong one, it just makes your chest a little tight sometimes.

So, why am I sharing this? (Not the shout out there for eligible bachelors in the market for exhausted spin instructors, I mean the loneliness and isolation thing in general) Well, because I’ve been reading a few things recently about the impact of loneliness, particularly on older people, but I just have a hunch that I’m not the only person in my age bracket who feels this way. We’re in an age where we watch other people’s lives through our phone screens and it makes it too easy to just retreat. My introversion loves to let me do that. But walling ourselves off can escalate all too quickly.

So I guess this is just a little note to myself and to anyone else who might feel the same: it’s OK to be vulnerable, it’s OK to reach out. People can’t read your mind. No one’s going to know what you’re going through and how you feel unless you take the leap to trust someone enough to tell them.

Make some plans, arrange some hangs with friends, force yourself to go to them – that’s where I’m at right now. I’m not gonna let this thing get the better of me. It’s within my power to change the narrative here, so that’s what I’m gonna do. Fellow introverts and lonely and isolated people, join me!

Image is from an article about me in The City Talking magazine, which you can read here

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10 Comments

S

FINALLY! Thank you so much for talking about this. Sometimes it feels like no one else feels this loneliness, when in reality it’s perfectly normal. It’s just that no one talks about it. Thank you for breaking the silence.

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Mona

Thank you for this. I can totally relate to what you have stated because I go through the sane thing You are doing the right tithing fight through it. You are not alone. ?

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Katie

Yes! This is a topic so taboo in my friendship circles. In the times of insta and Facebook we have more ‘friends’ and ‘likes’ than ever but I’ve never felt less connected x

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Erin

Thanks for your bravery posting this. I echo the other comments that I also feel lonely, but also I’m an introvert that feels completed exhausted after being a bubbly optimist all day. I often see groups of girls out together and envy their friendship. Meanwhile i have amazing friends with whom I have meaningful conversations with but still think they only pretend to like me (even though logically that makes no sense).

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Viola Levy

I felt exactly the same on Saturday – have actually been contemplating moving abroad as “there’s nothing for me here”. But have since had a word with myself and know that it’s not the case, although those feelings come in waves. Sometimes you just have to ride it out (quite literally for us spin junkies). The pressure 30-something women get to “settle down” doesn’t help. You’re made to feel like being single in your late 20s/30s is just waiting around for the next phase of your life to start, while everyone else races ahead of you. Grass is always greener etc.

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L

Yup, feeling all of this. I now have an amazing boyfriend but was single for aaaages before I met him and would have whole weekends hiding in my room feeling incredibly lonely. I don’t have parents or siblings to connect with and even with him I feel very envious of close families. Or even having a parent to call for advice at the end of the day. Social media is a b*tch too, seeing girl squads and their weekly brunches is tough sometimes. I honestly think making new friends is tougher than dating in many ways! Hugs to you x

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Wande Wayo

Wow, I am soo glad you wrote this! I think isolation and loneliness are very common in society today sadly. I’m not single, I’m and extrovert and have too many friends but I have experienced a snotty nosed, ugly cry Saturday a few times too πŸ™ usually because I have given too much energy out in the world and have nothing left in the tank at the end of the week! We all need to save some for ourselves, it’s ok to be selfish every now and then!

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Kay

There will be so many males/females, young and old that will get something from this so well done you. The mind is a very powerful thing. We actually have two voices that we hear. A constant debate ? +/- the good thing to know though, is we are always in control of our minds. we just have to do a few simple things daily.
1. Write a gratitude list. When you happy with what you got
2. Treat people how you want to be treated. Check yourself! Keeping your side of the street clean will have a mirror affect on the people in your life.
3. Compliment people, carry out simple acts of kindness.
4. Let go of negative emotions and resentments. They drain only your life.
5. Make time and be nice to yourself. If you think you don’t have time. Take 30-60 mins with no technology. You defo have the time.
Last of all!!!!! Make them changes, feel the fear and do it anyway!!
Choose to HAPPY!!!

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Jessica Noah Morgan

I couldn’t resonate with your words more so thank you for sharing. I agree with some of the comments already posted. It is so easy to feel isolated in a world surrounded by social media. It can feel very lonely when people stop calling and stop arranging outings because you’re all being updated by posts online…so why do we need to meet up and catch up? It’s that attitude and it is a really sucky one. Remember the days when you had to use the landline? Remember the days when you could arrange to meet a friend in the park or at a coffee shop at a particular time but no one had a mobile phone and no one would be late?

It’s fine being an introvert – that’s who you are and you should embrace it. But you should also embrace your ‘me time’. You have friends, you have lots of friends. But don’t forget to make the time for yourself and if that means having a little cry to yourself for a whole evening then so be it, at least you are releasing all the emotions that you have bottled inside for so long and a post like this also helps with the release too.

I feel the same sometimes. I’m working loads and sometimes I can go a whole week without any of my friends calling or texting. When you’re not active on social media, sometimes that can make you feel more isolated because people rely on social media as the sole form of contact these days. Think about you and your energy though. Keep smiling at strangers in London. Keep bringing your good vibes to your classes. You kindly sprinkle your good vibes to others who need it and that, my friend, is something you should be proud of.

You’re fabulous. Don’t forget it.

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