A Few Thoughts About Connecting with Others
Recently Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared loneliness a national epidemic. According to a study by Cigna, roughly 58% of the population report being lonely. We’re alone too much, working remotely and relying on texting and video chats for communication.
Humans are hardwired for connection. I recently read an interview with Jeremy Noble from Project UnLonely.He described loneliness as a biological signal that something is missing from your life, the same way being hungry signals you need food or being thirsty says you need hydration. Loneliness is a signal that we need connection. And I mean meaningful connection, where you are with people sharing the same experience. Like book clubs, or the old man coffee klatch at the local cafe. Even something as simple as having a walking partner. Connectivity leads to better health, increased well-being, and greater longevity.
But loneliness is more than being alone. Everyone knows you can be in a room filled with people and still feel lonely. Just because you joined a book club doesn’t mean your loneliness will immediately evaporate. Connections take time to gel. Still, you have a better chance of making those connections if you’re in the book club than if you are sitting home alone.
One of the things Jeremy Noble points out is that loneliness is also driven by perception. That is the gap between how you see the connection versus how other members of the group see it. For example, once upon a time, when I was young, I had a pair of roommates who, when we were together as a trio, would sit together, and go on about how great it was to spend time together. If you asked them, they would say the three of us were having a good time. If you asked me, I would tell you that I felt like the third week. There is nothing lonelier than feeling like a third wheel. That’s why groups are much better when you have an even number.
Solving My Loneliness
I’ve spent the past year working on my loneliness, and I’ve come to two major conclusions:
1. What matters isn’t just connection but making the right connection. A toxic situation, like being the third wheel, isn’t going to solve your loneliness issues.
Not every good connection is right either. Some people simply aren’t good at meeting your connection needs. They don’t want to talk about feelings or have way too many issues of their own to deal with yours. That doesn’t mean they can’t be your friend. It simply means these are not the people you turn to when you’re feeling super alone.
2. Sometimes I’m the best person to meet my needs. This is what experts mean when they say Be Your Own Best Friend. It’s my responsibility to solve my loneliness, by joining a group, reaching out to someone to talk, or finding something fun to do alone.
A lot of feeling less lonely boils down to self-worth. (Maybe this is the third conclusion.) What I mean is I am continually reminding myself that I am worthy of other people’s time. It’s giving me the courage to risk reaching out to people and forging new connections. It’s also helping me enjoy doing things on my own.
Even these posts are about connection. I want these emails (or blogs) to be more like a letter from a friend than a marketing tool. That’s why I’m rethinking the frequency and content – I want you to look forward to reading my thoughts.
Get the New Sadie Novella Early
First Dates are Fatal officially goes on sale on November 28th. However, because we’re friends, I’m going to let you in on a secret. The novella will be available starting November 24th. The price is $.99 from now until the end of the year. Then it’ll go up to a whopping $1.99.
I’ll share the link with subscribers that morning.
In the meantime, if you’re American, have a terrific Thanksgiving holiday. If you aren’t, then I wish you a good week. As always, thank you for reading.