Friendships & Loneliness

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.


47 thoughts on “Friendships & Loneliness

  1. I spent thirty years alone in a classroom. Yes the students arrived and went and lessons were taught. Nevertheless, not one teacher entered my class. Never sat in the teachers’ room talking about pupils or other staff members that was below me I was a professional. Recalling my last day as a teacher all my students said their goodbyes not one teacher entered my room I remain a professional. Asperger’s created a gifted teacher and not one acquaintance.

    1. I am glad for the ability to be professional. With my truest friends I can be relaxed. I don’t need or want to waste time on shallow superficial relationships. True friends, though rare, are one of life’s greatest treasures.

  2. I really appreciate this post, as it’s a subject I’ve dealt with repeatedly over a lifetime. As a true introvert I’ve only ever had a very few close friends at any given time. And in order to preserve my own emotional health I’ve had to cut toxic people out of my life several times. I struggle with guilt over that fact for years, but each time I examine closely my decision to remove people from my life I come to the same conclusion: yes, it was painful and difficult and guilt-inducing, but it was the best decision for my own well-being.

  3. So good, so encouraging to read this. The last paragraph really does it for me:

    “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.”

    I am so totally relieved !
    Thank you

  4. This is a really effective post. I find that often I am dealing with a gang of negative people and it is very tiring. Sometimes I must persist, but your post helps remind me to stay focused on the positive people in my life and not give the negative my power. Thanks.

  5. From a fellow Aspie I can see myself in so much of your story. Thanks for showing me that I am not alone in my feelings.

    Loneliness is being alone and not wanting to be.

    I often feel the loneliest when I am surrounded by people.

  6. Ironically enough, have been gravitating back and forth between writing and not writing a post about ‘toxic relationships’. The issue with mine is that its a family member that’s causing lots of trouble/stress/pain, and its pretty much time to let go.

    What you say resonates more than you know, for went through very of the same issues you had. But we can’t let ourselves be doormats for people out there, whether we know them or not. There are very high quality people out there, but sometimes its more like a treasure hunt. Still, when finding these individuals, it more than makes up for everyone else that’s not worth their salt. Great post!

    1. Thank you! It can be hard to let go of family but even they can be toxic. I have a chosen family that includes my closest friends and family. People who are a positive contribution to my life.

  7. 🙂 A very poignant post, I passionately agree negative people bring you down, that I guess is why I never speak of depression, perhaps that’s unhealthy perhaps it’s called coping………either way an interesting conundrum?

  8. Quality, yes. It’s better to find people who harmonize with you, and who you feel comfortable with. Everyone is a niche market. so just be happy with your quality relationships, and your comfort, right? Trying to please everyone is draining and unfulfilling.

  9. This is very true! I’ve had toxic people in my life and didn’t notice they were hurting my positivity until later on looking back. Thank you for this post!

  10. “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. Negative people will suck the life out of you and positive people will help you succeed.”
    This is so insightful and important. Some never learn.
    Enjoyed your observations

  11. This was a lovely post! As an introvert I have very few friends, those I have I’ve had since very early childhood and have held on to them. I often prefer the company of animals to people! 🙂

  12. At my point of lonely emptiness, numb to the world and others, a friend spoke in honesty about Jesus being her constant helper, her friend. I was stunned and my spirit pulled into freedom. Through a difficult transition I began to believe in Him, too. I knew at that point He was real. And I could begin to know Him. Yes, quality always comes first in relationships. Gary B.

  13. Ah! Super advice! My only friends the first 7 years of my life were animals! 😉
    I, just last year, had a 10 year friendship that I truly thought was the real deal, break up. It was devastating…yet looking back I see that there were a lot of warning signs. I’m better now 🙂 So happy to meet you!

  14. True words! I was also a loner during the first few years of my school days. Mostly because I was bullied for being “weird” and also because I just never felt I fit in anywhere. I liked doing things alone, spending time reading while the other kids were playing stupid games I just didn’t get. I was lonely though, because I didn’t have a good home environment or anyone in my life I could trust. Now I have very few friends, but they have been with me for many years and love me just the way I am. I don’t get to see them much, as they live quite a while away, but when we do get together, I enjoy the time we have. Certain people in my life don’t understand how I can spend so much time alone, but I’m happiest when I can just do my own thing and not have to socialize. I’m enjoying your posts! 🙂

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