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Loneliness is a Choice: Proactively Choose to Connect with People

Friends

“Make the best use of what is in your power and take the rest as it happens.” ~ Epictetus

Do you know that feeling when you are completely alone?

I don’t mean in a calm, solitary, I-choose-to-be-on-my-own kinda way.

It’s the alone that inflates with silence that makes your ears ring. It’s the ache in the pit of your gut that boils the insecurities and needless feelings of rejection. It’s the push of desperate pain that wells in your eyes and stains your cheeks.

You know, that kind of alone?

I never intended to feel this way. When I first moved to Paris, the images of hope and “my future starts here” were bursting from every pore.

As I whizzed around daily life, getting to know my new colleagues, digging into shiny new work projects and exploring the jewels of this amazing city, I was so engulfed in the newness of it all that I made no time to stop and think about the long term.

And there was no need to. I was embarking on an exciting new phase of my life. There was no time to stop and think!

But then the newness faded. My colleagues became familiar to me. My job was less about discovery and more about delivery. My apartment was decorated. I was done being “new.”

And that’s when reality finally sunk in.

It was time for normality. Routine. Familiarity.

But nothing in Paris was like my old life. I didn’t have any real friends here; nobody I could call and say “hey, let’s hang out together today.” Family were in a completely different country too.

The emptiness was explosive.

Humans are naturally social creatures, and I am not just gregarious; my energy comes from connecting with others. Taking this option away from me was like stripping my identity bare.

I didn’t descend into a depression. Neither did I go out nor have wild, cocktail-soaked nights. In fact, there was no defining moment when a flare of inspiration transformed me from the no-friends-alone-on-the-weekends person to a blossoming social butterfly.

As with anything I had in my life, friendship would take time to achieve. And even then, there was no end game, no one event that signified completion.

Building a life filled with what I wanted would not swiftly appear through chanting a few affirmations or signing up to a list. I would have to define it for myself. It would be an evolutionary process. The difference was made using two words: what and how.

What did I actually want? It was simple. I wanted to have someone I could call and spend some time with. But more than ever, I just wanted engagement, conversation, a spark of chemistry and shared experiences.

I didn’t want acquaintances. I wanted real friends—the ones where we shared a mutual respect and just had each others’ back. Simple!

How to get there started with letting go of preconceptions and insecurities, like:

  • Everyone already has a circle of friends. Why would they want to befriend me?
  • I don’t speak the language yet, so how can I engage with new people?
  • The French are notoriously unfriendly, so the odds are against me anyway.

Thoughts like this alone could have been strong enough to keep me routed in my own self-doubt.  But my security did not come from removing the doubts, but choosing to take action in spite of them.

My journey to finding new friends began with two main themes: the people I knew already, and the things I was interested in doing.

I decided I would first ask a few colleagues to have lunch with me. These conversations revealed shared interests, so I asked one colleague to join me at a couture class where we learned to sew dresses. Another colleague and I went indoor-wall climbing.

Mingled with this was using the desire to learn French to also engage with people outside of the office. I joined an online group and began meeting people who wanted to learn English and in turn they taught me French. This created a reason to meet and some common ground to work from.

Some of these people have become irreplaceable friends and some I will probably never see again. But I found simple joy during this process. Would I ever have encountered these people if I had not made the effort to do so in the first place?

And that is perhaps the most fundamental lesson from this experience. If I wanted friends, I had to ask for them. It was my responsibility to make the first move. There was no magic pill, no secret formula—just discovering the what and the how.

What changes have you made to feel less lonely? What has this taught you about yourself?

Photo by RandomThoughtsofMe

Avatar of Razwana Wahid

About Razwana Wahid

Razwana Wahid is the founder of Your Work Is Your Life, a movement created around finding wildly wonderful work and a courageous career path you’re truly passionate about.  Read more at http://www.yourworkisyourlife.com.

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  • http://www.vishnusvirtues.com/ Vishnu

    Razwana, you conquered not only the newness of the place, unfamiliar surroundings but your inner beliefs about friendship. And you took a risk and had a strategy. The risk was being proactive and the strategy was finding people you had an interest in doing things with.

    Like most things that turn out successful in life, you didn’t sit back and wait for friends to show up like a bagguet in a French deli. Ha! You went out and made it happen. YOu made the first move.

    With friendship and life, we have to make it happen. We can sit back and wait (and be lonely) or be courageous and get more out of life. Thanks for the reminder to take some action! Can never hear that too many times.

  • Lina

    Thank you for this tip, and for being honest about loneliness. I have also moved to a new country, and have been so focused on my work, since its a new project taking off, etc.

    But I do miss my familiar surroundings, family & good friends.. So I really need to get started on that how & why! Thanks for showing I am not alone in this!

  • Razwana

    Hi Lina. You are definitely not alone. In fact, I don’t think enough people talk about this stuff.

    Feel free to email me (raz@yourworkisyourlife.com) if you ever need some support or encouragement. I wish someone had offered me the same!

  • Razwana

    Thank you for your comments, Vishnu. Sitting back and waiting – it is definitely not something that I do. Well, not always …..

    Your comment reads like you are writing from experience – can you share an example of when courage has brought you success?

  • Vanessa

    Hi! Great post! Thank you for sharing your experience. That was exactly how I felt when I first left my home country. The insecurity and feeling of rejection had hold me back all these years. I buried myself in part time work and study. Then kept telling myself that I don’t need nobody; but deep down, I knew that wasn’t true. Because My life before leaving my home country was all about friends.

    Until recently (after 4 years, yeah.. long time), I was able to let go of all preconception, take action and put myself out there. I joined a few groups here and there and get to know more people. We went out hiking and sometime just plain hanging out. It was fun!! It was difficult to take the first step, but once I get started, I want to do more. And I certainly felt more alive!

    As the saying goes: If you want something, go get it. Period. Can’t be more agree with that. We are in charge of what we have and what we don’t/can’t have.

  • Razwana

    Vanessa, I feel so energised after reading your comment! It may have been a long time for you, but you did it, and that’s the main thing. I know what you mean about wanting to do more – the world is full of awesome people, right?

    What advice would you give someone who has recently moved to a new country and has no friends there?

  • http://isitallaboutme.com/ Tim McAuley-Soul Surfer

    Oh, wait, So I have to make an effort to make friends…..that would explain a LOT!

    Thank you, for writing this post Razwana.

    I don’t really get the explosive loneliness feeling like most people. I’m easily entertained, and don’t even notice that I’m alone most of the time. It’s my achilles heal.

    When reading your post just now, I realized that my preconceptions and insecurities have been sneaky little suckers. I didn’t even notice how many excuses I make about why I shouldn’t hang out with so and so, or ask that person out to play.

    Now, to be perfectly honest…..I doubt that it’s going to change any time soon.

    I’m obsessed with 2 things right now….. writing and paddle boarding….. Oh, and talking to you on SKYPE!! Does that count??

  • christina

    Razwana,

    Thank you for sharing this! I have been living in Argentina now for 11 months and I have been pretty lonely. I felt depressed after the newness wore off and didn’t understand why I felt that way, I was doing what I wanted to do, after all.

    I was once a social butterfly but when I came here I became very reclusive, everything was a chore with the language barrier so I wanted to avoid social situations. I even started turning down invitations to do things.

    I realized it was the lack of genuine friendship. Sure I was meeting people, nice people, but I didn’t have a friend I could just call up to do something with. I blamed it on the language barrier, the difference in culture, or that I was just an outsider in their world.

    Eventually, I found courage to go out and do some things. So far it’s working out, I haven’t found a really close friend but that takes time in any case.

    I have found an awesome Spanish teacher, and a few good Argentinean friends that would have my back even though we don’t hang out every week. Things are looking up and it’s because I put myself out there more for people to be aware of a possible friendship. Can’t make friends couped up inside!

  • http://www.worldclasslasik.com/lasik/choosing-best-new-york-lasik-surgeon Best Lasik Surgeon

    I consider myself an introvert, and recently I started to think that it is more of a psychological sickness than just a “natural difference”… your article strengthens this idea!

  • rico

    This article really hit the nail on the head. I need to do this. Thank u!

  • AJRK

    This reminds me of a conversation I had recently with someone, let’s call her Betty, who had migrated from a country in the Middle East where people are considered to be more “warm” and hospitable than here (Australia). I was telling her about someone else from that region who had found migrating to Australia difficult because of this apparent difference in the local people’s temperament.

    Betty said to me, “I understand your friend’s experience as I felt that way too at the start. But I just thought, I am going to try to re-create my social world back home here in my new home. And so I invited people over, I made a lot of effort to get to know people. It took time, but I did it and now I feel as connected to others here as I ever did in my home country. You can’t sit there and do nothing and wait for people to come to you – you have to try to make it happen.”

  • Diane

    Thank you for your post! Tried everything but so far I haven’t been lucky! Not sure what to do next, what I know is, it’s getting hard to deal with everyday…Wish I knew what I’m doing wrong!

  • http://www.vishnusvirtues.com/ Vishnu

    haha glad you asked. Ok, leaving a well-paying, stable career to do something completely different and loving every minute of it! Moving to a different part of the state where I didn’t know too many people. Taking a career break and traveling around Central America. there’s 3 :)

  • Olivia

    So true! You want friends? You’ve got to make the first move and put yourself out there.

    One of my very best friends today is someone I just happened to invite to the zoo and she was my neighbor. It was an awful experience (think freezing cold temps. and crying babies) but we bonded. Two years later and I just photographed her wedding in another state a few weeks ago. Miss her already!

  • Confused Forever

    This is a very interesting insight into how loneliness can creep on someone and eventually destroy the person. Yes colleagues are the best start, you work with them and thus, becomes easy to bond in a new place. I have always gone to clubs whenever I’m lonely, no better place to make some friends….

  • Razwana

    Ha! Just a few things then, Vishnu !

    Lovin it ! (in a non-McDonalds kinda way)

  • Razwana

    Hah! Well, you’re interacting with another HUMAN BEING, so I guess it does :-)

    Being comfortable in your own company is perfectly cool. You know yourself. And that’s the most important thing.

  • Razwana

    Wow! So you are now the go-to person for how to make friends in clubs!
    Care to share some insights?

  • Razwana

    Love this, Olivia!

    That’s the secret, right there – an experience that bonds you. I find there is always a tipping point in a relationship when you turn from ‘just friends’ to ‘really great friends’. Chatting over coffee isn’t bonding – but crying babies in freezing zoo’s definitely is :-)

  • Razwana

    Diane – what have you tried so far that hasn’t worked?

    email me raz@yourworkisyourlife.com if you are not up for discussing it here. And give the Forums on this site a read – there is plenty going on there (http://tinybuddha.com/topic/cant-deal-with-being-lonely/ and http://tinybuddha.com/topic/boredom-and-loneliness/)

  • Razwana

    :-)

  • Razwana

    Your friend Betty is a genius!

  • Razwana

    So this means you can do something to change that, right?

  • Razwana

    Christina – Yes. THIS is what I am talking about!

    If someone hasn’t moved out of their home city, they may not even realise what you are feeling as the new kid. Making the effort HAS to come from you, because you’re the newbie.

    It’s all about taking responsibility, right?

  • Heather

    The only problem is if you have a non-traditional job and take classes on-line! I work at a few different farmers’ markets each week and while I have become ‘friends’ with a few of the people I work next to one day per week, when you live an hour or two apart it can be hard to get together. AND- when you live close to your home town but get turned down each time you ask an old friend to get together it gets a little tiring. (I moved away for three years and once I came back I realized my friends of more than 25 years had moved on and were not willing to let me in to their new lives.)
    Alas, I have looked into groups online through different websites, but most outings cost more money than I have to spend (which is really no money at all).
    Thank goodness for social networking sites, while I may not get face time or voice time, having people to message with is better than nothing when you need a friend to talk with and there is no one to pick up the phone when you call them.

  • http://halinagoldstein.com/blog Halina Goldstein

    There is a group of people that know the lonely place better than most others. It’s the widowed people. I read their stories almost daily, and I know they can see themselves in what you describe in the beginning of your post, Razwana.

    They too are in a strange country, only not by choice. So for them the evolutionary process would look very differently than yours. For example, they would give anything in the world to experience the boring, familiar, normal kind of loneliness again.

    But that doesn’t change the fact that it is an evolutionary process indeed! (and I love you call it that!)

    Thank you for your inspiring spirit, Razwana!

  • Annamarie

    Great post and great comments.

    I’ve been thinking LOTS about
    this whole issue of loneliness and how people cope with it. The thing is
    making social connections are baby steps. Move too fast and the other
    person backs off.

    When I moved to southern Vermont I knew
    nobody. I would go to the monthly “Gallery Walk” and I’d see so many
    people meeting and talking, but not to me. Seven years later, I can’t
    go to the same event without constantly running into people I know and
    like. And the way that happened was by doing volunteer work, joining
    groups (in my case a community garden and Toastmasters) and inviting
    people I met to have coffee with me. Bit by bit the connections build.

    I
    think another thing lonely people don’t realize is that social people
    are proactive. They invite others. They express an interest in the other
    person so that the other person feels good when they are with them. As
    Virginia Satire (famous family therapist) once wrote, “No one is ever
    loved enough.”

  • http://happinessisat.blogspot.com/ fathima

    I wouldn’t call myself lonely, I’m usually happy being on my own most of the time. But I do feel the need to have that someone, ” I wanted to have someone I could call and spend some time with. ” – exactly that. I have already been making a very intentional effort for a long time now (years, actually), initiating catchups and coffees, mingling with friends-of-friends, reaching out to new people that seem to have stuff in common… but nothing seems to go beyond the acquaintance stage. I’m not sure why and don’t know what to do about it. Any advice?

  • Kerstin La Cross

    Well this rings awfully familiar. I moved to a strange city almost a year ago with my husband and have also fallen into the routine of working and sitting at home wishing for social interaction. I’m terribly anti-social, and have to seriously force myself just to use the phone for something as simple as ordering food.

    Just the thought of asking a co-worker/associate if they’d like to hang out sends tremors through me, and I immediately jump to reasons not to. The scarier part is that I am suppose to be most of these co-worker’s superior, since I’m a shift manager.

  • Aisha M.

    Thank you very much for this wonderful post.

  • Razwana

    :-)

  • Razwana

    Karstin – your last sentence is quite relevant. Does your position dictate what you are ‘supposed’ to do? It’s ok to be a manager and still feel some anxiety!

    Why not start with some in-work socialising? Like a coffee break or lunch with a colleague? Small steps first!

  • Razwana

    Hi Fathima. Thank you for your comment and question.

    Out of the people that you have been acquaintances with, how many of them have you known constantly over those years? In my experience, a relationship like the one you want can either take a lot of time, or can take a bonding experience.

    How close are these people to you? Do you have drinks/go to movies together, or are you invited round to each other’s houses? How close are you making them when you interact? Sometimes our intentions show clearly through our actions.

  • Razwana

    Annamarie – I love this! Social people do not have a magic gene that helps them come out of their shells – it is a proactive approach.

    Thank you for commenting!

  • Razwana

    Halina – thank you for your comment. It brought a very different perspective.

    Whether loneliness is a choice or not, how we deal with it determines its hold on us.

  • Razwana

    Heather – social networking sites have certainly broken down the barriers of physical presence. I definitely have friends that I met online that I would not have otherwise met, and also when I really needed to just have a conversation that didn’t involve my job.

  • http://www.alisonelissa.com/ Career Coach, alisonelissa.com

    Enjoyed this post and comment! Now I’m thinking of who I should be reaching out to that I’m not. :) Thanks for the inspiration.

  • http://brajadulal.blogspot.in/ Braja Patnaik

    The world does not come to meet you. You have to go out and kiss the world. The only way to be less lonely is to take the initiative and go, meet other people.

  • Razwana

    Awesome Alison !

  • Razwana

    EXACTLY !

  • http://charmingoo.com/ Josh Brancek

    Razwana, I think you are right!!! Conscious choice of connecting with people is the way to go!!

  • Confused Forever

    I guess when you are lonely, you can easily track down other lonely people. It’s like loneliness attracts loneliness. So I simply go, and try to talk to other people who are in same boat as I’m…

  • ourobouros

    I’m not sure if loneliness is necessarily a choice, because it is the unavoidable condition of humanity. Loneliness is embedded deep within us, and expands once we individually confront the ultimate experiences of life (death, joy, tragedy, the passage of time).

    So, existential loneliness is not a lack of integrity, or some form of suffering the loss of a special person. Nor is loneliness some psychological crutch that opposes the threat of being alone. Loneliness is a way of being, a way of searching for and confronting your own subjective truth.

    But people always seek to escape their loneliness – and many try joining FaceBook. I find that ironic because to connect on Facebook is to have the situation backwards. The way to a happy life or a meaningful one is not about escaping loneliness.

    If loneliness is inescapable, more so as an American living in a large and largely unencumbered country, then the secret is to use loneliness. Wilder posed this as a challenge: “the typical American battle of trying to convert a loneliness into an enriched and fruitful solitude.”

    If we don’t really know ourselves, we cannot really get along with one another. Logging onto FaceBook where your friends are just a click away makes it more difficult to develop a fruitful solitude. FaceBook’s constant presence distracts us from our anxieties or fears.

    Logging onto Facebook won’t fix what ails us (existential loneliness) but we do it regardless — and the tragedy continues.

  • Razwana

    YES Josh !

  • Clare

    What a beautiful article. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes I think it can be easy to forget that we need to make the first move sometimes.

  • Denise

    Hi Diane, what I’m going to say might sound provoking – it surely sounded to me when I first heard it – but I ask you to look at it with an open mind.

    You haven’t tried EVERYTHING.

    How can I affirm that if I don’t even know you? Simple, if you did you would already have your result. But don’t worry, it happens to all of us in one area or another.
    Sometimes we try a few things expecting a result and when they don’t turn up as we expected we end up believing that nothing else will and we give up.
    If you still believe you really have tried EVERYTHING than I suggest you do a simple exercise:
    Make a list of the last 500 things you did to achieve the result you want.
    You didn’t try 500 different things, right? Ok, then make a list of the last 100 things you did.
    Oh, you didn’t try 100 things. Then make a list of the last 50 things you did.
    If you are like most people, chances are you didn’t even try 50 different approaches before you decided you were out of options.
    If you did, I’m impressed and happy for you because it means deep in your heart you know you can find another 50 ways of doing it!
    And if you didn’t, even better, you still have many more choices left!
    I know it can become hard to keep going when you don’t see results and even harder to believe that you will find the way. But the good news is that there is always a way as long as you don’t give up! You just have to keep looking :)

    A good way to find the energy to keep trying is realizing that by taking action and not getting the result you expected you actually did achieved something great – you learnt what doesn’t work in this situation with these people. So looking at those things you can modify them or try an opposite approach. And if it doesn’t work? Try again. And if it doesn’t work? Try again – and keep trying until you get it :)

    And be positive about your outcome, our brains always focus on the experiences that match our beliefs!

  • Razwana

    It IS far easier to sit and receive. But if what you want doesn’t arrive, then it’s time to go out and get it, isn’t it, Clare??!!

  • Razwana

    I understand what you are saying and I agree – existential loneliness has a place and is very spiritual. However, it is still a choice you make – to be content with being alone, or lonely.

    But when we choose to embrace others into our lives, then tools like Facebook can be very useful to help us along our journey.

    Thank you for your thoughtful and thought provoking comment.

  • ourobouros

    You’re welcome, Razwana :)

    You’re right that choice is possible – but then again, isn’t choice itself a form of loneliness?

    After our emotions lose their power of self-serving illusions, after we find too much clay in the feet of our ideals, we wake up abandoned, and exposed to the naked brutal truth: that nothing from the world – be it money or possessions or goals achieved – can protect us from the existential dread. That is the realization that nobody else – not the Establishment, not our parents, our job or boss, coworkers, significant other, not even God itself – is responsible or help share in the responsibility. Then we realize that we are utterly naked in our solitude, standing in front of our destiny with zero guarantees.

    Before making the choice, we stand alone in total clarity and awareness, and in making the choice, we are alone in our responsibility. Even “choosing not to choose” is still a choice – although made in bad faith.

  • http://www.worldclasslasik.com/lasik/choosing-best-new-york-lasik-surgeon Best Lasik Surgeon

    No, I did not imply that it can be changed. Why did you think so?

  • Razwana

    You definitely did not imply that it can be changed.

    My interpretation is that if being an introvert is not a natural difference, but psychological, than this IS open to change. i.e if you wanted to become less of an introvert, then it is in your control.

    Would you agree?

  • http://www.worldclasslasik.com/lasik/choosing-best-new-york-lasik-surgeon Best Lasik Surgeon

    I would agree to the extent that it is theoretically possible, but might be a very difficult task to do in real life. You should begin trying to enjoy stuff you’ve always hated!

  • Razwana

    That is a really great point. They are the one’s most likely to respond positively as you essentially want the same thing.

    Good luck !

  • Razwana

    Indeed. But what people ‘should’ do, and what they actually do, are two very different things…..

  • Razwana

    What would be your suggestion for the first 20 things on this list?

  • BeYourself_TRWF

    Not able to read through all of the comments here, so pardon me if I’m repeating something here!

    Yes, I agree that one most certainly needs to be proactive about meeting people. One must be proactive about pretty much anything in life that one wants to achieve.

    But I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage or remind all of us that each of us can be a bit more inclusive in our lives to others – especially to those who may be new somewhere or starting over in some way and are trying to meet new people.

    I do think that many people get comfortable or content with their circle of friends and are not always open to inviting others in. (I think women are especially guilty of this – mostly out of insecurity, actually – I know, potentially controversial statement there.)

    Wish I had time to write more, but here’s to always leave yourself open to meeting new people and to approaching life with an attitude of openness and inclusion.

    ~ Rachel

  • Moha

    “Solitude, my sacred mood”
    Appalachian Springs – The Verve

    Hope can distend most of you ;)

    Solitude, for my experience it hits you hard the first times, then it starts to melt and mold inside your being for then being absorbed.
    From what I see it is a delicate process as many people get overpowered from it and this cause insecurity later on in any kind of human interaction.

    When you find loneliness or when you choose solitude, I think it is of vital importance know how to cope with it.
    We have the key to become happier just by staying with ourselves, submerging in different spheres of our being.

    I am very open and a crazy outgoing (no problem at all mixing with everyone), but I often feel in a world on my own where no one can speak my language for real.
    Some may suggest apathy. But I sense awareness and different sensibility.

  • Razwana

    Hi Moha. From reading your comment, it sounds like you are far more comfortable being on your own than I am!

    I agree that the initial spurt of the ‘I’m along’ feeling can be difficult, and feel like a struggle. And this can turn into desperation when meeting new people.

    For those of us who do struggle with being alone, being comfortable on your own is definitely something we should strive towards.

    Thank you for your comment.

  • Razwana

    Rachel – thank you so much for your comment.

    I absolutely agree with you that we must be aware of, and include, people that are new. I see this in the office I work in all the time – somebody new arrives and because everyone already has their team/circle, nobody makes an effort with the new person.

    So I do two things. First I go for lunch with them a few times (I live in France – lunch breaks are a huge deal here!). The second is that I’ve mentioned this to HR and suggested we set up group lunches to include the new person.

    Have you experienced being the new girl and having to make the effort with people, rather than the other way around?

  • BeYourself_TRWF

    Razwana –

    That is so incredibly wonderful of you to be so inclusive at work. The world would be a better place if everyone went out of their way to make others feel included.

    I have been the new girl before. I remember (bravely, if I may say!) moving to Boston without knowing a soul. I certainly tried to put myself out there and meet people, but it did feel a bit hard to break in at times, as many seemingly had their own social circles already and seemed hesitant to invite a new member in, if you will.

    So, I always champion proactive-ness, like you suggest in your post, but I also feel compelled to serve as the voice for those needing an inclusive hand, if you will, and to remind the world to be more inclusive toward others.

    Because you never know when it will be *you* who needs to be included…

    ~ Rachel

  • lost soul

    I lost my wife, my best friend seven weeks ago. The emptiness and the hole in my life is so vast, I don’t think it can be filled. She is simply irreplaceable. I don’t want a new partner and I don’t want to move on. I do want to stop the pain and get to know my newself, I say new cos I will never be the same again. I don’t know who I am anymore, a big part of me has died.
    I feel lost.

  • http://halinagoldstein.com/blog Halina Goldstein

    My heart goes out to you. Staying where you are is good. Feeling the pain is good (as if you had a choice…).

    This is one of the most difficult and lengthy transitions in life. The fact that you want to get to know your new self means that you *will* find yourself and the love within that never dies. Even if it will not be the same.

    You’re not really lost.

    Many warm greetings,
    Halina

  • http://www.yourworkisyourlife.com/ Razwana

    Seven weeks is not a very long time after losing someone so close to you. It is like you are mourning for the loss of your wife AND your relationship.

    Getting to know your newself is going to take time. And there is no pressure for it to happen straight away. Your heart needs time to acknowledge, think, reflect, and feel the loss.

    You will get there – I promise.

  • Elizabeth

    I am feeling so alone today. I lost my best friend and fiancé 3 years ago and I feel that I will never be able to replace him. Life has basically stopped for me. Of course I am still alive. I am just existing.

  • Elizabeth

    I feel exactly the same. A very lost and lonely soul.

  • http://www.yourworkisyourlife.com/ Razwana

    Elizabeth – the fact that you are writing this here means you have acknowledged something has to change. Life may feel like it has stopped and yes, you ARE alive.

    Some questions for you to think about that I hope will help:

    - What do you want to build in your life right now? Think of this in detail – from the moment you wake up , to the people you interact with and how you spend your time.
    - What kind of live would your fiance want for you following his passing?

  • Lucy

    I want friends, but I hate people.

  • Lucy Chen

    Hi @ourobouros:disqus I agree with your comment about “Before making the choice, we stand alone in total clarity and awareness,
    and in making the choice, we are alone in our responsibility. Even
    “choosing not to choose” is still a choice – although made in bad faith.” I find this to be very very true!

    May I ask you what you mean by “existential dread”? Do you mean we dread our existence? Thanks.

  • Lucy Chen

    I moved to Australia when I was 15. It’s only now that I read your comment about Australia is less “warm” and “hospitable”, that I realized my then “cold” and “lonely” feeling was most likely shared by many. :)

  • AJRK

    Hi Lucy, I think some white Australians are warmer and more hospitable than others, and those are the ones you have to seek out :) But overall, I think Australian culture still shows signs of its British roots, and I believe Australians are considered very friendly compared to Brits (I have some lovely warm English friends, by the way! Though all moved to Australia!) – which I guess offers some insight into Australian culture, and reminds us everything is relative.

    I am not sure where you are from, going by your name perhaps China. I lived in China for a year or so many years ago, and was amazed by people’s hospitality and warmth – often to complete strangers. (Of course relationships get more complex the more you get to know people / the more you become embedded in the society.) But Australians I find tend to be very focused on their existing social circle and don’t easily allow new members in. Even Australian friends who move between cities here find it hard to meet new people and make new friends. It’s a real shame.

    On the other hand, when I was in China, because I come from a culture where there is a bit more distance between people, I did sometimes find some people a bit intrusive and longed for more privacy / space. So I think my ideal is somewhere in the middle! Anyway, no better way to learn about the world and your own culture than to go and live in different countries :) And I think eventually if we make enough effort and try to be a good mix of flexible / open yet true to our more highly cherished values, we can find like-minded people anywhere. From all the time I spent in China and all the people I met, I now only have 3-4 Chinese friends I still keep in touch with, but I know they will be life-long friends.

  • ourobouros

    Hi Lucy and thanks for asking. (Puts on existentialist cap, fires up clove cigarette)

    In existentialism dread is distinguished from fear, which is directed at something. Dread on the other hand is directed at nothing. It’s the result of a sense of meaninglessness of human existence or the emptiness of the universe. Dread is considered as the universal condition of human existence cuz it says everything about us in this modern age.

  • AJRK

    Also, ever since that experience, back home I have tried to be welcoming and open, especially to people new to the country or who have limited social networks for whatever reason. Especially at Christmas my family often welcomes an ‘orphan’ or two (someone who has no-one to spend the festival with). I do find now though that I am working and studying and have children and a partner, and we both have a lot of extended family living in the same city, it’s hard enough to find time to meet my existing friends as often as I would like let alone make time and space for new ones. So now I do have some additional insight into why sometimes people can be reluctant to extend those offers and invitation. I am sure once I move on from this particular stage of life it will get less busy. I hope so anyway!

  • Lucy Chen

    HI AJRK, now I’m 31, so it’s been a long time since I first moved to Australia. I think I’m quite used to it. And in fact, when we moved to China temporarily for 3 years to work on out start-up, I found it extremely difficult to adjust to the Chinese way. In particular dealing with relatives.

    If you are a Westerner with white skin, the Chinese people will be very warm and friendly toward you. That is a given. However, they are not so to their own brothers and sisters :)

  • Lucy Chen

    I see. And I think you mention something that is very important here, which is “meaning”. Most, if not all, religious and philosophies, seek to answer the meaning of life, right? I guess when you find your meaning, you lose the dread?

    That is exactly how I have experienced. Exactly, from dreading a meaningless existence and emptiness to being excited and feeling more and more fulfilled everyday, because I have found my life calling, my meaning and I am building my “legacy” everyday.

  • Lucy Chen

    HI AJRK, now I’m 31, so it’s been a long time since I first
    moved to Australia. I think I’m quite used to it. And in fact, when we
    moved to China temporarily for 3 years to work on out start-up, I found
    it extremely difficult to adjust to the Chinese way. In particular
    dealing with relatives.

    If you are a Westerner with white skin, the Chinese people will be
    very warm and friendly toward you. That is a given. However, they are
    not so to their own brothers and sisters :)

  • AJRK

    Yes, you are right. I also knew some African students who were not shown the same hospitality I was. Which detracts from it considerably. And of course I have been to other countries since and not always had the same thing happen. But I guess I appreciated what I experienced, and if it can be applied universally, it’s a wonderful thing and so I have tried ever since to replicate that in my own life as there is certainly a lot of xenophobia in Oz.

  • http://www.yourworkisyourlife.com/ Razwana

    Really? Everyone you’ve ever met, you hate?

  • me

    Hei, I need your opinion on my case.
    I was an outcast since highschool. When I get in college I’m ready to start off new and fresh, but I still cannot connect with other people. I’m chatty at first, but after everything is settled down and start to become familliar, I get bored. Let’s say I can’t keep up relationship with everyone, even my classmates.
    After reading your article, I think to start off again, but I have this feel of unwillingness to reconnect with my classmates that I meet everyday. Help me.. I’m afraid of being lonely and friendless forever.

  • Danielle

    I couldn’t have said it any better. Your words described exactly what I was feeling last December, and I was still trying to wrap my head around it. You hit it right on the nail. Thanks for such a great post! You’ve helped me out a lot :D

  • http://www.yourworkisyourlife.com/ Razwana

    You’re welcome, Danielle !

  • Muhammad Muzammal Ahsan

    A action economist, I actually followed this post and can see how silly it is to put a straight variety on the graph. Teamspeak Server