Happy Friday everyone! Connie is back here again today writing about a topic that doesn’t get spoken about enough. I hope you enjoy!
Wherever you are in the world and wherever you are in life right now I bet you have felt lonely. You could feel lonely reading this post right now or scrolling through your Instagram feed. Even though it’s a normal human feeling, we rarely talk about it.
Society tells us loneliness is bad. Shameful. When I think of society’s view of what a lonely person looks like I think of a person sitting alone staring out the window, rain is falling outside, and they look sad. Maybe you think the same? I don’t know why I picture that scene when I hear the word “lonely” but I do. But that’s pretty inaccurate. Darn you society! Sure a person could be out alone in the rain with a sad look on their face, but we have no idea if they are lonely. Just like you don’t know if a person smiling a big smile in a big group of friends at a party is incredibly happy or very lonely.
I’ve felt more loneliness than usual in the last couple months, summer included. I now have no shame in that. I used to, but I don’t now. It just is. This post is not meant to be a downer on your Friday, I’m just being honest. I have had plenty of moments of joy, laughing till I peed, anger, jealousy, and neutrality. You know, the whole range! I hope me talking about this makes you feel less alone in your own feelings. I hope it reminds you that you are beautifully human, a human that feels a wide range of things. All those feelings being valid. I hope after you read this you feel allow yourself to feel your loneliness because creating space for hard emotions is extremely powerful.
Life lately has felt like a crazy whirlwind where I’m just trying to keep everything straight – simple things like remembering to shower and eat enough. School work, intern work, family life, social life, teaching, dating (what is that right now?)…do I keep posting on Instagram or do I just take a break?
I’m currently in the thick of my dietetic internship – a year where we are very, very low on the totem pole of pretty much every office, practice, or hospital system – or at least it feels that way. For the most part I haven’t heard stories of interns feeling empowered, supported, and encouraged, but rather feeling frustrated, under valued and weighed down by the title “intern” because often it can feel like we’re doing mindless tasks versus actually learning.
There have certainly been times where I’ve felt really valued and appreciated, but those moments didn’t come as often as moments where I felt like I was a place holder or someone there to just get tasks done. For a highly emotional and sensitive person like me it’s been draining at times. I wasn’t expecting this year to be all daisies and roses, but I thought I would feel more supported. But I’m hopeful I will feel more supported as I get further into this year and exposed to different places. Regardless, my feelings are valid. So are yours.
My loneliness has been heightened by a lot of things. Having my best friend and big support system move across the country for her nursing program in May, being the only person out of my close LA circle of friends still in school, and looking at the world through a Health At Every Size lens instead of a weight normative lens all make me feel isolated sometimes.
But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve learned a lot from sitting with my loneliness. We know each other well. I’ve learned what things make me feel less lonely, what I want, that it’s ok to be lonely, and that I can do hard things.
How to Manage Loneliness In a Healthy Way
Searching for community or connection with people in similar situations. After all, we are put on this earth to connect! Maybe that happens on Instagram, through reading blogs that support you, or letting go of negative friends or relationships that heighten your loneliness and instead forming new ones.
Reading books. Brené Brown has been so comforting and eye opening for me. There are people working through the same things as you. You’re not alone in working on accepting your natural body size in a culture that tells you your size is unworthy – even though it feels lonely. You’re not alone in making choices that support your wellbeing and what makes you feel good instead of what you feel like you should be doing. These are choices that go against the grain in support of your wellbeing – how cool is that! Lonely sometimes, but cool! It feels nice to have support even if that support is just reading someone else’s words on paper or on a phone screen.
Nothing replaces in person connection, but you can totally use social media to connect with others and feel less alone. It might feel weird at first, I know. But I’ve gained some wonderful, real life friends in the HAES nutrition sphere from connecting with them on Instagram first.
What I want
Loneliness has taught me what I don’t want and then naturally, what I do what. I don’t want to be dating someone that doesn’t really value me or my values just because they are there and the act of me dating calms down people in my life that are most interested in my dating life as if that is the one thing that makes me a worthy person. I have so many other things going on in life they could ask about! Any other people feel me?! I would rather feel a bit lonely at times than be stuck in a yucky, restless place with dating.
I’ve learned what makes someone a good mentor and a good teacher for me out of the loneliness that came from a poor mentor or teacher. I’ve learned what makes a valuable friend from friends who have left me or broken trust with me.
I’ve learned what makes a certain city a good place for me to live. I need a bustling city, a body of water, and community.
I’ve learned what kind of practitioner I want to be from people who make me and others feel less lonely and who empower others. I think my therapist is awesome, I think the way Robyn, Crystal and Liz at RLWH value their clients is phenomenal. They make me want to be the best RD I can be.
That it’s ok to be lonely
I look at loneliness like any other emotion now. It’s fleeting. I know when I feel lonely that it’s not forever. When I’m lonely, I write down what triggered those feelings and try and get some stuff out of my head and on to paper. I realize that I’m not my thoughts. And just because in my lonely state I may have some negative thoughts about myself, those certainly are not true or helpful thoughts. We often aren’t very kind to ourselves in times of loneliness, myself included.
I feel that emotion and do whatever I need to do until it passes. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I call a friend and chat, sometimes I remind myself of life’s wonderful blessings, sometimes I hike and look at the world to feel small, sometimes I just remind myself that there are so many other people feeling like me in this moment. Sometimes I watch Americas Funniest Home video clips on YouTube. Yes, that works for me too. Whatever I do though is ok. We all process differently.
I can do hard things
Heck yeah I can!! Some of my biggest accomplishments in life thus far have stemmed out of loneliness. An example – working through my own process with HAES was a lonely one and will continue to be one. I have thankfully found a lot of support through amazing people. Sometimes I don’t even try and actively learn – I just watch. And through watching and absorbing, I learn. I’ve talked about the backlash I’ve gotten in school before or in teaching classes at the Y or at CSULA. But it’s been worth it to discover this awesome framework that I believe to be the most ethical way to care for people.
Through my vulnerability and loneliness in, Robyn chose me to be one of her interns, I have been invited to learning opportunities or events from the space I created on Instagram and I attribute that to the hard times. I totally doubt myself often and recognize how much more I have to learn. SO MUCH MORE! But I always try and pat myself on the back for how far I’ve come. See? Loneliness has taught me that I’m strong. I can do hard things. You can too.
And remember, you’re not alone.