A person can be in the heart of a massive crowd but can still feel incredibly lonely.
We live in a world where being alone is not a “good look” for anyone. Not everyone enjoys eating out alone, shopping alone, and some can barely live alone. Western cultures have led us to believe that having a group of friends around us—or sometimes just one friend—makes us look more desirable. We see movies and read books about a character who doesn’t want to “die alone.” We see the common portrayal of depressed people sitting alone in a darkened room. We even see school cliques where there is that one pouty-faced kid who is left out with nobody to interact or play with.
No matter who we are or even how many people we may know, no one is immune to feeling lonely; it creeps up on all of us like that unwanted and unexpected visitor. But be uplifted! We can all overcome feelings of loneliness—I certainly had to. I had to learn from personal experience that being alone is one of the greatest things for our wellbeing.
I experienced loneliness on a very deep level. Not only was I physically lonely with very little to no people near me, but I dealt with emotional loneliness. I’ve always felt like the odd one out ever since middle school. I was tremendously shy and quiet, quirky, and didn’t quite follow the same trends that most of my peers did. I would get made fun of every day, and I had very little to no friends until my latter years of high school. At the dawn of my adolescence, I would experience loneliness on a surface level—feeling lonely because nobody wanted to talk to me or sit with me during lunch, gym, or just free time in class.
During my early university years, I became immersed in crowds but still felt incredibly lonely. How was this so? It was difficult for me to relate to others and vice versa; other folks had a hard time figuring me out because I was so quiet and aloof. The older I became, the more I craved deep connections over the mere idea of having people around me. I couldn’t form these connections with most people I encountered during my early college years, so loneliness hit me like a hard blow. I vividly recall going back to my dorm room and weeping silently, praying for quality friendships and to be delivered from the burden of loneliness.
My prayers were answered when I found a campus organization filled with Godly young women by myself and made connection after connection and formed friendships that I still cherish today. But how God dealt with me during my season of loneliness is the power behind this story. I was going through a period in my life where I had to seriously look inward. Who am I? Why am I here? Why am I studying English? Who am I in God? How can I make God proud with who I am? During my periods of social isolation, God was intentionally setting me apart from the crowd to help me unveil myself and find strengths in being myself: introverted, observant, reflective, quirky, and submissive to God. In hindsight, God allowed me to feel the pain of loneliness because it led me to spend time with Him. During these alone times, I would talk to God, meditate, discern His will for me, and worship. My love for God quickly grew deeper and more powerful. The more quality time I had with God, the less loneliness I felt when I was actually alone. I would feel His presence and hear His voice. It was so comforting! For me, God filled an empty space that not even the most elaborate crowd can fill. Thus, my feelings of loneliness completely diminished.
I understand not everyone has an intimate relationship with the Lord, but anyone can overcome loneliness by keeping these truths in mind:
- Solitude is our greatest companion. This is when we discover ideas, talents, and practice meditation.
- Focusing inward gives us strength. This is because we learn the power behind our characteristics.
- Quality over quantity. Focus more on the quality of relationships and not on how many friends you should have.