I can’t make it alone??? I can’t believe I even wrote those words. After all, I’m an introvert. I preach solitude and reflection. I LIVE solitude and reflection. So how is it possible for me to say “I can’t make it alone?”
Well… it’s easy to say because it is so true! And you know what? You can’t make it alone either.
When Solitude Becomes Loneliness
I was talking with a friend who happens to be a shrink. I told him that I was feeling bored and useless. He laughed at me (with love) as he explained my problem was that I was spending far too much time in isolation.
“Charlie,” he said, “you are way more relational than you like to think. Just because you treasure your time alone doesn’t mean that you can spend all of your time alone. You need to be connected with other people as a friend and as a mentor/advisor/counselor. You are hard-wired to be connected with others. It is part of what it means to be human.”
When Connection Becomes Life-Giving
I’m currently reading a most enlightening book titled, Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind—(that is if you consider 400+ pages of small print “brief”). Haha. The author, Yuval Noah Harari, demonstrates how, since the beginning of humankind, we have lived in tribes and communities committed to mutual survival and service. We really DO need each other for physical and emotional survival.
We are all created with a divine desire to love and be loved. It is part of what it means to be human. You can’t get away from it. We need to be needed. It is an unalterable reality. It’s in our DNA. And yet here I sit writing… alone, which is perfectly fine as long as I have meaningful connections with others on a regular basis.
I’m not alone in my loneliness, am I? You, too, may be feeling the same way and it is very, very shitty. Mother Teresa once said, “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” It’s creepy… that is, it “creeps” its way into our lives. What begins as the quest for freedom, independence, or solitude eventually finds its way to an intolerable state of loneliness. And worse, feeling unwanted. Yuk!
So What Can You Do About It?
Let me suggest just two things:
- Pick a great friend. You know, someone that makes you feel heard and loved every time you are with them. I call these “Replenishing Relationships” where you fill each other’s need for relational intimacy. This person can be the same or different gender. In fact, one of my very best friends is a woman.
Now, try to schedule weekly get-togethers with this person. In person is best, but the phone also works. Another of my best friends lives in Seattle. You may know him from our Podcasts. It’s Terry Hershey. We chat regularly by phone and then a couple times each year we make plans to get together for a couple days.
- Join a group. You can find these groups in organizations or churches or some kind of learning session (classes of some sort). I have considered yoga, a class on Art History or Anthropology, or a class on drawing. You can also start your own group, like a Book Club, or how about a Movie Club where you gather after the film to discuss it. Oooh. That sounds fun.
Now all I have to do is take my own advice!!!
Kurt Vonnegut, one of America’s most revered authors, wrote, “What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”
We Really Do
Need Each Other
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