Updated: Jun 25, 2020
This week is Loneliness Awareness Week. The main reason that I wanted to take the time to write something because having always felt like I was a very independent person, I feel very fortunate to have recently discovered that actually, loneliness is my single biggest fear.
In my eyes, loneliness is the fear of not gaining or feeling that you are not deserving of interaction with or attention from others.
In my social life - attending events and not having anyone to talk to, at work - the potential of not connecting with clients in meetings, during pivotal moments in life - feeling disconnected from friends and family during long trips away from home, and in love - feeling exposed by wanting the attention of the person that I have opened my heart up to.
What I have come to realise is that being worried about any of these situations and many other similar ones, all link back to a fear of being alone.
As children, we learn that the idea of being reliant on anything is a weakness and, as a result, recognising these things and admitting them even to yourself is an incredibly difficult thing to do.
We now all need to learn that interaction with others is instinctively a human need. Some people require it more than others, but the truth is that we all need it in some shape or form.
If you can recognise that and genuinely believe this, then understanding it is completely acceptable for you to need interaction, opening up about it becomes easier. But it can still be a very hard thing to do.
Like many other things, recognising and admitting them to yourself becomes an essential part of the journey.
Following that, admitting this to people you can trust becomes not something painful or to be worried about but something incredibly rewarding. Not only does it help in certain specific situations, but it also helps to reduce the general scale of the fear.
I now understand how to deal with situations better because - I know it is there and I know how to recognise it. I can easily rationalise the void, and I know there are certain people who I can reach out to fulfil this need without being too heavily reliant on one single person.
These are the simple pieces of advice that I would give anyone struggling with loneliness this week.
Understand what loneliness is, learn how to recognise it, discover who you can trust and be brave enough to reach out to them gently when you need interaction or understanding.