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Why I Feel Lonely Around Other People

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Typically, when you think about someone feeling lonely, you picture them isolated with little contact with anyone. Maybe they’re living on their own and don’t often have social experiences with others. We humans are wired to socialize; it brings us enjoyment, offers us support and a feeling of love. But what if you have all of this in your life, but still feel lonely?

I want to talk about a different type of loneliness — one that isn’t spoken about that much. One that could be seen as the complete opposite to the way I’ve described above.

There have been times I’ve tried to tell people I feel lonely. It’s usually met with comments like, “How can you be? Look at how many people you have around you.” I find it hard to admit I’m lonely, but I say the same kind of comments to myself. I think, “Look around you; you’re surrounded by meaningful people.” I live in a shared house with my best friends. I have a big family and have a lot of friends, so how can I feel like this?

At this point, I try to remind myself that what I’m feeling is a different kind of loneliness.

I can be surrounded by people but I can still feel lonely and isolated. This is in no way a reflection on those around me; it’s a deeper feeling within, one that is difficult to explain and be understood. I am so grateful to have everyone around me, but these issues stem from my own self-confidence and can be heavily related to my mental health conditions.

Trying to understand why I have these feelings at times has been extremely difficult. I’ve also struggled to figure out what the best way is to try to improve how I feel. Throughout my life, I admit I’ve tried to avoid spending time alone as much as possible. Maybe this has come at a cost to my well-being, but for me, it worked for a long time. Now that I’m becoming a lot more self-aware, I can see that for me to live a healthy life, I need to be comfortable on my own.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a lack of understanding of who I am, including who I am in different situations. And at times I’m unsure of how I even feel altogether. I’m now seeing though that this is just me, and that’s how my mental health difficulties can take control.

My self-confidence, overthinking and black and white thoughts all impact my well-being at times, and in turn can leave me feeling lonely.

I’ve heard people say, “I can walk into a room full of people I know and love, but still feel lonely.” This is one small sentence I can relate to heavily. For me, it doesn’t matter how much time I spend with people; I can still feel the intense feelings of loneliness.

To be able to try to improve how I feel, I think it’s really important for me to continue working on areas like my self-confidence, self-esteem and slowly building myself up overall. If I can continue to improve in these areas, I have hope that the feelings of loneliness could slowly reduce.

I’m learning these feelings will not be fixed by spending more time with people, but by understanding myself more. My loneliness stems from nobody but me, and I think the reason I feel this way is because I don’t have a clear sense of myself.

I’m realizing I need to shift the focus of my loneliness more on myself. I want to continue to get to know myself more, become more comfortable with myself, and slowly improve the way I feel about myself. I know I can’t put a time limit on this — my recovery has been slower than I would have wanted — but things are changing and that’s the positive I can take from this.

I know I will continue to experience the feeling of loneliness amongst others, which is a common characteristic of my mental health conditions. However, even though I may not be able to remove those feelings completely, I can work on them to improve myself.

These feelings will fluctuate throughout my life, but by investing my time into bringing myself out of the difficult times, with the support from the ones I love and professionals, I’m hopeful I will be able to control the intensity of these feelings.

I wanted to write this post to try to open up the thought that even those who have an abundance of people around them can still feel lonely. You can never judge anyone on face value. If someone tells you they’re feeling lonely, listen. Give them the opportunity to explain how they feel. If they’re trying to open up to you, they probably trust you and respect your support.

Remember: what you see on the outside isn’t always what’s going on in the inside.

Be sensitive, be kind and be understanding.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Photo by Tegan Mierle on Unsplash

Originally published: November 8, 2018
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