I should know, I’ve had more than my share of lonely stretches.
Moving to a new city is one way to get lonely quick
I’ll never forget this one time after I finished university and moved back to my home city of Edmonton after 7 years away. I was living in a shabby little walk up apartment by myself with, like, 2 pieces of hand me down furniture and working as a temp.
I had lost touch with pretty much all my old high school friends and my social life was nearly nonexistent. One day, it hit me that if I dropped dead on a Friday after work, it was very possible no one would even notice I was gone until Monday. And if I didn’t happen to have a job the next week, even longer. That was a pretty bleak realization, let me tell you!
I’d say moving cities is both one of the most exciting and toughest things a person can go through. There’s a lot of great stuff involved, but there’s also a lot of challenging stuff, including a heaping helping of loneliness.
So in the short run, at least, it can get pretty dang lonely. And here’s the main thing I want to tell you about it:
This. Is. Totally. Normal.
I can’t tell you how many stories of crushing loneliness I’ve heard from folks who’ve been through it. One of my best friends, a bright, charming, social bit of loveliness, told me it took her a whole year to make one friend after moving to a new city to be with her boyfriend, and hearing that broke my heart.
But it’s normal. In fact, a recent study done by the BBC found as many as 40% of people reported feeling lonely often (source).
I think a big part of getting through it is remembering that. Remembering that feeling lonely is something that happens to everyone at some time or another, and especially during a big change like moving to a new place. Or having a baby. Or finishing school. Or retirement. Or… I’m getting away from the point here, but you see what I mean. There are lots of things that happen in life that can bring on a period of loneliness.
Thinking loneliness is failure: big (common) mistake
It’s really a shame when people forget how normal this is, and start blaming themselves, but that’s common too. They wonder why it’s taking so long to meet people. They wonder why their neighbours aren’t friendlier. They wonder if they are doing something wrong or being wrong, somehow. They start to feel like a failure.
Then of course, feeling like a failure makes them even lonelier and undermines their confidence which makes it harder to get out there and find new friends… it really is a vicious circle.
Please, don’t do this to yourself. Loneliness is not your fault. For a whole bunch of reasons, we are living in a society that makes loneliness the default option. Having a great social life should be easier, come more naturally, and just happen as we go about our lives, but that’s just not the reality we live in. If you feel sad and frustrated by that, come on over and sit with me, sister, because I do, too.
I overcame it and you can, too
But remember how I used to be sad and alone, sitting on my only chair in my shabby apartment contemplating death? I can laugh about it now because within 2 years, I had built up a strong social circle. I had friends to go out with, people to chat with on the phone (this was 15 years ago, when people still did that, lol). I had the support to get me through breakups and all kinds of other big life changes, and I still do.
So it is possible to go from lonely to a rich life full of lovely people. I’ve done it, actually, a few times, and so can you.
I’d like to help you. May I?
What I really want to do now is help you with it, if you would like. I have several projects in the works to get you from lonely and isolated to having all the friends you can handle, especially if you’ve recently moved to a new place.
Over the next few months I’ll be rolling out support and guidance to help you get through it. There will be stuff for you to listen to, live event stuff, and more things like this for you to read. Lots (in fact most) of it will be free.
I also want to keep you company as best I can in the meantime, be here for you and provide some virtual ways for you to feel a little less lonely until we can get you the IRL tribe you really need.
I started to put in more detail but this post would become crazy long and it’s already long enough, so here’s what I want you to do:
Sign up for my monthly email and I will fill you in on everything as it becomes available. Just click here. I promise not to flood your inbox. And if you choose not to sign up, no hard feelings. You’re welcome back anytime just to read articles.
I’m hoping to help as many people as possible so if any of this feels helpful to you, please spread the love by sharing it far and wide. Or any way that feels right to you.
If you’re struggling with loneliness, hang in there, lovely, and remember: you’re perfectly normal. And it won’t always be this way.