July 27, 2022
Whenever I encounter other introverts, most mention how much they enjoy being in their own company.
As an introvert, I understand how draining it is to be within large groups of people with too much going on. It’s exhausting, overwhelming, and drains us like a battery.
If you are also an introvert, you know that being alone allows us to recharge and feel more like ourselves without being overstimulated by the people around us.
Introverts enjoy being alone.
But sometimes, I wonder if other introverts ever experience feelings of loneliness.
When it comes to talking about issues of “loneliness,” most introverts are quick to defend their introversion by saying they can’t possibly be lonely; they like being alone way too much.
But is it the same thing?
Many people enjoy being alone, but I’ve never heard anyone say they enjoy being lonely.
There is this misconception that loneliness is more of an extroverted problem than an introverted one. But I am here to tell you that as an introvert, I’ve also experienced my share of loneliness.
Loneliness is not an extraverted problem.
Loneliness is a national problem, affecting more and more people in the United States, and they are calling it “The Loneliness Epidemic.”
There is a difference between “being alone” and “being lonely.”
Being alone means being physically by yourself, and being lonely is an emotional state where you feel alone.
Those who are lonely often feel disconnected from others, but deep down, they also yearn to connect but struggle to do so.
Did you know that three in five Americans are lonely?
If you aren’t lonely, chances are that you know someone who is.
Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., and the 19th Surgeon General of the United States, declared loneliness a public health crisis. Not only is loneliness becoming a widespread issue, but he also recognized that most people don’t say they are lonely; instead, they express their loneliness by sharing their feelings, thoughts, and experiences.
“When I began my time as surgeon general, I started to recognize that many of the stories I was hearing from people in small towns and big cities across America were stories about addiction, violence, depression, and anxiety. But behind them were threads of loneliness.” — Vivek Murthy.
According to Murthy, common themes he noticed in those experiencing loneliness often expressed that they felt invisible, that they had to deal with all their problems alone, and that no one was going to look after them.
There’s no doubt that we live in the most connected generation of all time, and technology has allowed us to connect in more ways than we could have imagined.
But despite all these modes and opportunities to connect, we still feel lonely.
Why is that?
I believe it has to do with the quality and nature of the connections we have between ourselves and our online/real-life relationships.
Social media and video games, even though part of our culture, makes us feel like we are hanging out with people even though we aren’t. This is an example of how most of us choose to connect with people in the digital space. But in reality, it’s not the same as hanging out with a good friend at a coffee shop or greeting a friendly stranger on our morning walk.
For some, the barrier to forming online relationships is extremely low. It’s much easier to bond over a hobby, a love for a video game, or a favorite Netflix series. Still, even though the online world can potentially be just as unkind as the real world, there is safety when we connect with people online. Online, we have more control over what we want to share with others. But in real life, we forfeit any sense of anonymity, which can be a scary feeling that can leave us feeling vulnerable and having no control over how people perceive us.
For most people, vulnerability causes anxiety. But vulnerability is just as important when connecting and forming meaningful relationships.
Loneliness takes precedence when our social needs aren’t met and can leave us feeling isolated and disconnected from others.
Although online relationships are great, they don’t necessarily replace the real-life connections we should have. As social creatures, we are meant to be amongst people.
If you feel lonely, connecting with others can help.
I know it isn’t easy to connect with people during these challenging times, but there are many ways to connect with others without getting too far out of your comfort zone.
All you have to do is check out our article “How To Connect With Anyone: For Beginners” for tips and suggestions on how to initiate a connection with people without it being an awkward experience.
After all, research has shown that talking to strangers can positively impact our well-being by allowing us to feel connected and part of a larger community.
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