Lara on... Overcoming Loneliness

In this blog Lara shares her personal advice on how to deal with and overcome feelings of loneliness.

It’s okay to not be okay

Loneliness is a universal problem that doesn't just have one cause, a number of things can cause us to feel alone - such as: 

  • Bullying
  • Friends not staying in touch
  • Not having good communication with family
  • Feeling as if no one quite understands you as a person
Post it note saying why does no one text me and a sad stickman

It's not restricted to those reasons, but those are a few examples of how it can form in someone.

I think everyone has experienced loneliness at least once in their lives - the sadness and isolation from seemingly everything else.

A "Loneliness Experiment" organised by the BBC discovered that 40% of 16-24 year-olds claimed they felt lonely often or very often and that being alone is not the same as feeling lonely.

I think this is an important fact, as even with friends, you can still feel lonely.

My experience

I, myself, have a small group of friends and family.

love them, and I love spending time with them, but I still feel lonely - and this loneliness has been hitting harder than ever since I started attending university.

I’m away from home, so I don’t get to see my family too often and some of my friends are here while others went down different routes (different universities, colleges etc).

At first, I thought I’d be okay with this, but trying to make friends at university can be draining - constantly changing classes and workloads that keep me from going out to make it hard to balance a social life and find people I can talk to and really get along with.

For a while, I was actually really struggling with talking to people - I felt like giving up after a while and ended up sitting in my flat doing nothing on weekends, which made me feel worse.

Sad Stickman saying I miss home and friends

However, I knew it couldn’t really stay that way because if I don’t make a change - then things won’t change and there will be many more days of sitting in my flat, alone and watching people I know have a good time on social media. It’s not easy to try and change things in your life, overcome your feelings of anxiety and sadness to do so, but it is worth it in the long-run. Life is just about trying, and you can’t let things keep you down and prevent you from helping yourself. 

So, in this short blog, I will be giving my personal advice on how to deal with and overcome loneliness.

1. Being the first to reach out to people

If your friends, or people you know, don’t reach out to you first or it feels like they don’t put as much effort into staying in touch as you - don’t get disheartened.

Sometimes it’s not about not wanting to talk, but rather, they are struggling with the same anxieties you are or their life is keeping their mind busy. It’s hard to reach out, ask people if they want to hang out or even keep a conversation going sometimes and this can make people feel as if they’re ‘annoying’ or ‘weird and awkward’. If you can, reach out first, ask them how they are. Even if you aren’t exactly friends with this person, but you know them and want to get to know them more, just take the first step and see how it flows. 

Pushing yourself to introduce yourself in social situations (classes, clubs, jobs etc) can end up making other people feel more comfortable to talk to. In text, the same applies, receiving a text can make someone feel seen and cared for and gives you someone to talk to - feel less alone.

Text on Post it note saying Hey! My name is ___ Whats yours? What are your hobbies? Do you have Instagram?

2. Going out more - even by yourself 

Going out by yourself doesn’t seem ideal, I know.

For a long time I would debate that going out by yourself just makes you feel ‘lame’ but once I tried it, I actually did feel better - it feels refreshing and taking pictures along the way is kind of fun.

In my opinion, you just need to go out to the right places that don’t make you feel too alone. For example, the cinema, sometimes it’s actually preferable to go there alone so you can actually watch a movie you want to see without interruption! Also, get all the snacks and drinks you want without the worry of someone else trying to get in on them!

The cinema is a nice change of scenery, much better than watching a film alone at home, and it feels like a treat - a nice day out which you most certainly deserve.

Another few places that are actually fun to go alone are art galleries, the beach and the shopping centre. Besides actual outings, you can go on walks to places you’ve never really walked before - listen to some music on the way and take pictures of cool buildings (I love doing that) or some street art you like.

Honestly, it’s just nice to get out and do something, the fresh air and the different scenery do wonders - having something to do, spend time on, feels great because you’re not overthinking - you’re focused on giving yourself a good time. I do this quite a bit, so I definitely recommend it.

Also, if you really like the place you went you can always invite a friend, family or someone you know next time! Hype the place up and show them around when it comes to it - it gives you a mutual topic to talk about and creates a good memory - and friendships are all about good memories.

Photo of an old building Lara took

(Some cool pictures I took when out by myself!)

3. Reminding yourself you are NOT alone

You are not alone.

That might be hard to believe at times, and I get it, sometimes I feel alone too and doubt my own advice. But, at the end of the day, we are not alone.

We will feel lonely at times and it is okay to feel lonely. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s not something to be ashamed of.

It happens to everyone and will continue to happen - to you, or me, or anyone - no one understands us better than ourselves and sometimes that’s a lonesome idea. But we do have people who try to understand us, whether it’s family, who by the way, are friends too (my mother claims to be my best friend all the time…don’t laugh!) or a pet, teacher, friend or whoever - there is always someone who cares about us, thinks about us or is trying to understand us better.

It takes continuous effort to be social, but it’s worth it. Spend quality time with the people you care about or ask that person you’ve wanted to get to know if they want to hang out - life is about experiences and we need to put ourselves first and put aside our stresses and anxieties to see we do have the means to not feel this way. 

What I basically want to tell you is that everything is going to be okay. Loneliness comes and goes, friends come and go, but you will be okay and you will find that same motivation I did to keep trying - you will never be alone, and things will get better.

Just keep your head up and remember it’s okay to not be okay sometimes.

Happy Stickmen saying Reach out when you feel lonely and make a change.

More Information

Check out more blogs and content created by young Scots on the issues that matter most to them and submit your own blog pitch on our Youth Loneliness blogs page.

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Young Scot supports young people to share their own voices, views and opinions and works with partner organisations and professionals who are experts in different topics. The views expressed in this blog are those of the young people, organisations and/or individuals who have taken part in the blog, not necessarily the views of Young Scot.