If I were to ask you if you were lonely, how would you answer that?
Lonely is such a loaded word, huh?
For sure, some of us know we are. We look around us and we know we need to foster more relationships in our lives.
But interestingly, many of us who are lonely, don't even identify with that word. Perhaps we assume that since we're extroverted or outgoing, networked, or around people all day long that we can't be lonely... and yet, just because we don't match our stereotype doesn't make it any less true.
The truth is that we are in the midst of a loneliness epidemic so severe that some doctors are calling it the #1 Public Health issue of our time! And with good reason.
Cigna recently released their loneliness report based on surveying more than 20,000 U.S. adults ages 18 years and older and found some alarming findings:
- "Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone
(46 percent) or left out (47 percent).
- One in four Americans (27 percent) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.
- Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43 percent) and that they are isolated from others (43 percent).
- One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20 percent) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18 percent)."
And of course what makes these numbers all the more tragic is that there isn't a pill, a surgery, or a diet that can fill this hunger.
What we all want when we're lonely is what I call frientimacy: a relationship where we feel seen in a safe and satisfying way. We want best friends, the relationships that feel supportive, easy, and comfortable, where we feel accepted and loved.
But unfortunately as the title of my first book suggests Friendships Don't Just Happen!
I wish they did. But the truth is that while we might have an opening for a "best friend" in our lives-- no friendship starts there. All eventual best friends start first as new friends. And new friends don't know us yet, don't love us yet, and shouldn't be expected to support us yet. They can be awkward, they can trigger our insecurities, they can disappoint our expectations and our hopes.
So it's no wonder why we often give up. And too frequently stay lonely.
But there is no way to turn the tide on this epidemic of loneliness than to open ourselves up to making new friends. Even if they aren't yet our best friends.
You can help us re-connect our world. We are designed to be in community. We can't give up on this. Thank you for valuing friendship so much that you're willing to keep inspiring yourself and others around you as we all keep reaching out to each other. This world needs us.
You want to do lean into creating better friendships? Join us at GirlFriendCircles.com