I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately about loneliness.
It’s been a regular theme for the last eight months, to be sure. How on earth do we combat loneliness when we’re alone, or near it, constantly these days?
Conversations always get me thinking, of course. And I got to thinking about how I haven’t really felt all that lonely this year, or well, ever. Maybe I’m a bit weird in that way? I don’t really know, but it’s just part of who I am. I’m an only child, so being alone is kind of the name of the game. You learn how not to be lonely very early on in life. Not to say I haven’t ever felt lonely, but it’s usually in very specific contexts. And that got me thinking today about the state of the world, the contexts that are making me feel lonely.
There’s a lot of shit going on, y’know?
And it seems to me that pretty much no matter where you’re at with all of it, what you’re doing or saying – or not doing or saying, what you believe or don’t, there’s going to be an interaction along the way (or perhaps, many) that feels lonely AF.
Like, the time you’re in a group of people and someone tells a racist or sexist joke and you’re the only one who doesn’t laugh and that just makes them all single you out more? Lonely. Lonelier when you call them out or in about it.
When you point out to someone casually throwing out fat as an insult and you have to deal with their defensiveness and/or confusion about why this is a problem, that’s hella lonely.
Choosing to cut ties with someone the world thinks you should continue a relationship with no matter what – divorce, parents, siblings, your BFF since high school? That is lonely, lonely, lonely.
Talking about mental health and treatment for it openly. LONELY.
Drawing boundaries or changing behaviors people in your life have gotten used to about you because you’ve finally gained confidence to be yourself and stand up for yourself…lonely.
Eating healthier and incorporating more movement as self-love and self-care can be lonely when the people around you don’t support it. The opposite – eschewing diet culture and the quest to be thin – can be just as lonely too.
What about running for office? Can you even begin to imagine how lonely that actually is? Let alone trying to lead while you’re in office?
As rosy as it is to look back at someone like Martin Luther King, Jr. and assume that he was surrounded in love and by people who always supported him and believed in what he was doing, don’t you think that was a lonely, lonely path much of the time? The man died for truth and justice, at age 39, with the heart of a 60-year-old because of the stress of his leadership in the civil rights movement.
With just a small handful of examples, it’s clear to me that loneliness is related to change and transformation. And maybe the reason why people don’t like to feel lonely is because they have resistance to change and transformation. The status quo will never be lonely, but it will always be the status quo.
So maybe the lonely bits are worth it.
Maybe it’s lonelier to say hello to the Black man walking next to you on the street, instead of moving your purse to your other side and crossing away from him – the oldest racist micro-aggressive behavior in the book. But maybe it’s not lonelier for that man.
Maybe it’s lonelier to not participate in the water cooler talk about diets and weight loss, to change the subject. But maybe it’s not lonelier for the one woman who always felt ashamed because of her size and uncomfortable in that group.
Maybe it’s lonelier to remind someone that they don’t have to say, “and there’s nothing wrong with that!” whenever they talk about a gay or gender non-conforming child. But maybe it’s not lonelier for that kiddo, or their parents, or the trans person in the room they didn’t even know was there.
Maybe it’s lonelier to not increase your rates and make more, more, more money by preying on more, more, more insecurities. But maybe it’s not lonelier for the other business owners out there struggling to do the right thing and change the corporate landscape too.
Maybe it’s lonelier to stop spending money with certain brands because their values or politics no longer align with yours. But maybe it’s not lonelier for the local makers who value every single sale they make.
Maybe it’s lonelier to talk openly in business and personal conversations about politics and human rights and racism and classism and every other -ism, and transphobia and fatphobia and rape culture and diet culture, and the pitfalls of capitalism and The American Dream – not just on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but every day. But maybe it’s not lonelier for every person out there in the world who might be touched by any of those things and years for change and transformation every single day.
I learned last Fall that my very nature is transformative, that I’m an agent of life transformation, called to innovate through new standards and ideas. I also learned what I already knew, that many people are not keen on radical transformations, and I’ll be too transformational for them. That’s one of the specific lonely bits for me, in my business and my personal life. But it’s also the very most worthwhile bit.
I’m willing to be lonely to create or facilitate change. Are you?
This week, this year (gosh, for the rest of our lifetimes), some of us might feel a little lonely in cretain contexts. But maybe it’s worth sitting with, embracing instead of lamenting. Maybe we even spend a little more time in loneliness, the kind that transforms us, and others around us, from the inside out. Because all those lonely bits, those specific contexts and interactions that feel crushing in the moment, they’re serving to build a whole that will be a lot less lonely for everyone over time.
We might be lonely for a bit, but we’re not alone on the whole. We’re all transforming, together.
Join my weekly email list, and I promise, we’ll get through the lonely bits. If you’re interested in transformative change? Let’s talk about how we can work together to make it happen. Schedule a call below anytime, or email me.