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Each of us at some time has felt a lack of company or friendship. Whether it is because we isolated ourselves geographically or through single-minded pursuit of our own agendas, we notice that nobody is there with us. And this is a sad-making feeling to have.
For some of us, it is a crippling sensation. We tend to think that it is due to our own faults, and that we are not worthy of companionship, and that it will be a permanent condition. And these things are not true. All of us have the ability to affirm another person’s interests and likes, just by sharing in activities. You have the power to like others and be liked in turn! And you may know a few tricks to pass on, which is always welcome and gives a good feeling.
Other people are able to quickly act on their feelings of loneliness. It should be stressed here that even the most outgoing and extroverted people can feel alone and adrift. For some people, the remedies to loneliness are almost instinctual. For the rest of us, they can become learned behaviors. So let’s examine the ways to combat loneliness!
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The best first step is self-examination.
What are my own interests and abilities? What do I enjoy doing? What do I find myself doing in my free time? Don’t scratch it off the list just because it seems like something you do alone, like reading or solo hiking. The goal here is to find out what enthusiasms you have that you can discuss with other people without feeling awkward about it. I say it is best to examine your own interests first because there is any number of people meeting for all sorts of topics. You will be more likely to keep coming back if you really enjoy what they’re talking about.
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How do you find these groups?
The quickest way is an internet search for things like Meetup or Facebook. If you’re near a college campus, there are probably clubs organized around your interests that will allow you to attend even if you’re not a student– there may be restrictions on using campus facilities such as a gym or a pool, but if you’re not using anything but a room, you should be welcome. Remember what I said about isolating yourself geographically or by the single-minded pursuit of your own interests? College students tend to have done both and want to meet you.
If your interests involve special supplies, like sewing, a supply store is a good reference for hobbyists in your area. Ask the clerk if anybody is meeting in your area to practice your hobby.
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Embracing the Awkwardness
It will be hard to walk into that room the first time. But if you’ve prepared yourself by finding something you like to do, you will be surprised how well you fit in with your stories and habits. People meeting to discuss a shared interest are usually too busy to feel self-conscious…and enjoy themselves too much!
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Special Advice for Teens
If you’ve been reading and notice that much of what I’m saying seems to require mobility and a disposable income, I’m sorry. It’s still possible to reach out to others and stave off the feelings of loneliness. I’ll give you teens some advice I didn’t give adults in the doldrums.
Experiment with your Interests
Now is the time to figure out what you could really get into. Don’t just list what you actually do all day, experiment with what you haven’t tried in the past. It’s okay to spend some time finding out that rock climbing or bug collecting is not for you. The odds are better in your situation that you’ll meet somebody your age looking for some interests to pursue, too, which can be its own bonding experience.
Take the Initiative
Sometimes the last thing an adult wants is more work. So I didn’t stress founding your own group as an option. You teens in school have an infrastructure for founding clubs at hand. If you have a clean, healthy, positive, definite interest at heart and don’t spot a club on campus for you, ask about starting one! The absolute worst that could happen is that you meet other people who organize clubs on campus, which you will find is a shared interest in itself. But you’re more likely to find that others share your particular interests. A pro tip – keep it positive, focused on the subject matter, and be tolerant of other people looking to participate.
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And remember, you are beautiful!
Christopher Andrew Balsz Jr
PLQ Contributor and Motivator