This isn’t something we talk about often, but it’s a tough topic that several of my blogger friends have been discussing lately, so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and share my experience.
Even in a society that is constantly connected, many people struggle with loneliness. Why are we always texting, liking, commenting, laughing, and sending emojis to express all the feelings that we are still alone? Is it? Are these online interactions meaningless and humans still craving personal connections?
I met a new mom at a baby group last week and she almost broke down in tears as she told me how lonely she was finding motherhood. A neighbor who recently retired said she feels so lonely at home that she walks her dog three times a day in hopes of bumping into people. A blogger friend of mine who recently quit her job to become a full-time blogger is really struggling because she feels so alone.
We bloggers are incredibly lucky to be able to do exactly what we love in the digital field. But like any job, there are good and bad, pros and cons. One of the biggest disadvantages for bloggers is loneliness.
Most of us work alone from the comfort of our homes, and we can easily go a day or two without actually talking to anyone. Most bloggers I know are introverts, and the idea of working alone in peace and quiet is a great idea in theory. But if you don’t go to the office, go to meetings, chat with colleagues, or go to lunch every day, you’ll quickly start missing those daily interactions.
But no one talks about loneliness why is that? It’s a little embarrassing to admit that you’re lonely. To admit that you want to be with someone, you just need to talk to someone. It’s not even about spending the day with your best friend, it’s just chatting with another human being.
It’s hard to know how to react to loneliness it’s not. You respond in kind. You respond by taking a moment to listen and talk to someone. But we’re all too busy to spend our precious time listening and talking, especially if we don’t have an ulterior motive, i.e we don’t need to talk to this person.
My experience with loneliness
I am not going to say that I have experienced extreme loneliness. As I write this, I am reading about loneliness, and some people experience extreme loneliness that is unimaginable and heartbreaking. I had never experienced anything like this before, but it was enough to make me sad and feel disconnected from the world.
I’m what’s called a “confident introvert” (I’ve read about it online and it’s true!) I’m confident enough and willing to chat in large groups and meet new people. I love meeting you. I get very tired from spending all day in crowds, having meetings, and constantly socializing. I like being alone and I like my own company, so when I worked in an office, I used to work from home whenever I got the chance. And I loved it! I was able to get far more done without distractions, and at the end of the day I felt calm rather than exhausted and tired.
I was really excited to work for myself and work from home. It was one of the most exciting days of my career when I went to IKEA to buy office furniture. It represented an exciting new start and the ability to work from the comfort of my home whenever I wanted.
The first six months were not lonely at all. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Since I was traveling from one reporting trip to another, I was enjoying some quiet time at home. Journalists are busy traveling and have little time alone. So coming home to my quiet little apartment in Wimbledon was heaven. I still felt part of a community because I regularly attended networking events and often met up with friends for drinks after work.
But then I moved back to Wales and traveled a little less. I was starting to feel tired, so I decided to cut back on my travels, but that also meant I was able to work from home alone all week. From Monday to Friday, from 9 o’clock to her 5 o’clock, it’s just me and my laptop in the countryside. There weren’t any coworking spaces, blogger meetups, or creative hubs I could join.
Well, I was bored. It was very boring. And I feel very lonely. I was talking to my blogger friends online all day long, but it wasn’t the same as usual.
When Sam got home from work at 5 o’clock, I peppered him with questions.
‘how was your day? what did you do? Where were you? Who did you talk to? What did you have for lunch? Shall we go out? Let’s go to a pub! Let’s go to dinner! Do something exciting, meet people, talk and get away from these four walls!’
Poor Sam just wanted to have a beer and relax for an hour after work, but I was like a puppy stuck at home all day and just wanted to blow off steam!
Oh, it’s a puppy….
That’s a good idea.
And that’s what happened with Louis.
Getting a dog was the stupidest idea ever. I traveled a lot and Sam worked all day, but I couldn’t get that thought out of my head. I spent hours every day searching Pets 4 Homes and looking at puppy photos!
I knew it didn’t make sense, but having a four-legged friend with you while you’re at home makes a huge difference.
In January 2014, Sam and I took a trip to Oslo and spent the entire weekend there getting drunk (I don’t know why because Oslo is so expensive!). During our beer tasting experiments, we decided we really needed a dog. We returned on Sunday and went to “see” French’s bulldog puppies on Monday night.
Although we said we would just “take a look”, we drove nearly two hours to Birmingham to see this puppy and we all knew we wouldn’t be able to go home without him. Ta.
Our little bundle with bat-like ears, wobbly legs, and snorts sat on my lap in the passenger seat of my car and continued to make me uncomfortable all the way home. We didn’t get off to a good start.
He then proceeded to destroy the door, baseboards, and laminate flooring of the adorable little cottage we were renting at the time (he proceeded to “repair” the woodwork by coloring it in with brown felt-tip pens upon departure).
But look at that face. I couldn’t stomach that look.
After we got through the initial teething problems, we realized that adopting Louis was the best decision we ever made. It was he who helped me during difficult times.
He took me out of the house twice a day when we went for long walks. I met new people, made “dog walking buddies”, met my neighbors, and never felt alone at home. Louis sat on my lap while I worked. It was like a hairy hottie snoring in its sleep. Louis also came on vacation with me and we went on a few dog-friendly retreats. If you’re looking for a dog-friendly vacation across the country, you should check these out, as there’s a wide variety of cottages to choose from!
Eventually I felt part of the local community and met people who were also working from home. It turns out that there are a lot of people who live nearby and work from home, but how else do you meet them? Just sit with someone who looks like they work at a cafe? You can’t talk. There’s a woman with a laptop, but she might just be doing her online shopping!
But when I sit outside a cafe with my dog, people come up and talk to me.
It’s perfectly fine to talk to a stranger’s dog, but talking to a stranger is unacceptable. This shows how messed up our society really is.
But that’s the reality, so my best option is to sit in a local pub/cafe and drink pots of tea endlessly while strangers pet my dog and a few of them become friends, The menu was to be eaten. And they’re still friends.
A handful of us still work for ourselves, walk the dog, take our laptops to the pub, and sit together to work. We all do very different things, but it’s fun just sitting at a table with other people.
Having kids changed everything, but I’m lucky to say I’ve never felt alone. George is energetic and noisy at his age, so he has no choice but to be kicked out of the house every day. Otherwise he will climb the wall. We go to lots of groups and clubs where the boys are playing and I’m chatting to the other parents there. There are many mothers who love spending time with their boys. I don’t get to chat properly with the boys, but they keep me busy!
If you’re struggling with loneliness, I’m not saying you should go buy a dog or take some kids out, but you should know that you’re not alone. If you notice signs of loneliness in yourself or someone you know, try to break out of the rut before it gets too far.
However, if you are wondering whether to buy a dog, please use this as a small opportunity to buy a dog. Dogs are the best. Louis keeps me company, keeps me healthy, and most of all, makes me happy.
I don’t want to admit that I’m lonely – Elizabeth of Rosarium