When I was very young I was alone – an only child until the age of eight when my sister was born. I was happy with my art projects and books. Creative activities entertained me. My hobbies were my friends and I never felt lonely.
In elementary school, I began to notice the other children forming groups and cliques. Somehow I stayed on the outside and was not taken in by my peers. I disliked school but still, despite the isolation, did not feel alone.
As I grew older I remember becoming aware of society’s ill feelings towards loners and loneliness. People who didn’t socialize much were always portrayed as outcasts in movies and pop culture.
Always picked last for any group or team, I was a typical bad nerd stereotype -poor hand eye coordination, good at computers, with a love of reading. Teachers made negative comments when I failed to immerse myself into groups but I’ve always been happiest on my own or in more intimate settings.
In high school blending in got easier and I began to have more friends. By senior year I was more popular than I had ever been before. Despite my newfound acceptance, I recall feeling true loneliness for the first time around this age.
The thing I remember most about this feeling is the way it lingered even when I was around large groups of people. My whole life people had made it seem as if the key to happiness was collecting people but being with people was never anything magical for me.
Where was the spark?
Growing older I’ve realized that quality is more important than quantity when building a friends list. I keep my social circles very small but the friends I do make are often long term.
It is important to be cautious with who you let into your life because the people you spend time with tend to rub off on you. There are people who will suck the life out of you and people who will help you to succeed.
These days I am content with evenings at home, working on creative projects, and hanging out with David and our four dogs.
I can count the remainder of my truest friends on one hand, the majority of them live far away. My chosen family, my tribe, people I truly trust. Honest people who avoid drama. I have the deepest gratitude for my friends. They are the right people.
Don’t waste your time with the wrong people. Take a friend inventory and carefully examine the relationships in you life. Are they positive? Do you feel like a better (or worse) person around this friend? Does being around your friend help you to grow as an individual?
There is a quote about loneliness by Kim Culbertson that I really love. It sums up the feeling so perfectly.
“People think being alone makes you lonely, but I don’t think that’s true. Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world.” – Kim Culbertson
Ditch the people who drag you down. Don’t let trashy people dump psychological garbage into your intellectual space. Guard the gates to your mind carefully because toxic people are the worst pollutants.