Recently, I published an e-book in collaboration with poet and publishing coach Scott Andrew James. I realized that I felt lonely and a lot of my loneliness was a function of being sedentary. For the first time in years, I wasn’t traveling for work. Not having to juggle work, life and family with travel suddenly left me with unscheduled time on my calendar. Boredom and loneliness set in. It’s easy to think we are bored when we might actually just be lonely. Lonely because we’re not around people and lonely because there’s nothing to do or fill our time.
So what do you do when you find yourself bored or lonely? I answer that question in this excerpt from my e-book, “The Fire Inside You.”
For more content, inspiration and fuel for your fire visit me at my website.
Living With Loneliness
This has been one of the loneliest years that I can remember. I’ve celebrated
some of my biggest moments at home, alone: Serving as my grad school
class’s commencement speaker. Finding out I was selected to give a TEDx
talk in Washington, D.C. Launching my book, Find Your Fire. I never
thought these moments would be in isolation. I have also gone from 2-5
business trips a month to none.
It wasn’t until the third month of the pandemic that I realized that I was
showing signs of depression. I got energy from travel and from having
intellectually stimulating conversations with people across the U.S. I also
realized that something as simple as deciding what to wear or what to eat
while traveling was a form of self-expression. It sounds silly, but getting to
wear a sassy suit and high heels in New York or finding a traditional blue
suit that still has some personality for a meeting in D.C. gives me joy.
So how do we embrace loneliness and overcome the obstacles it presents us?
Here are five things that have kept me going during the pandemic.
1. Find a penpal.
I’ve always loved sending thank-you notes or birthday cards. Since March, I’ve begun a practice of sending five letters to friends via snail mail! They don’t always write back, but they usually call or text me after. And it is a good reminder that I am not alone. Don’t know where to start? Just take a look at your holiday card list!
2. The giving RX.
Research shows that if you volunteer or do something for good, that you’ll feel good. So mask up and volunteer at a nonprofit in your community.
3. Take a social media break.
We all get a little FOMO (fear of missing out) sometimes. Scrolling social
media might make you feel less connected and as if you’re not getting as
many friends or family time as others are.
4. Belly laugh.
On one of my worst days during the pandemic, a friend told me to watch Richard Pryor. I’m not one for comedy albums or shows, but he was right. I started watching different comedians, and laughter did me so much good.
5. Choose Solitude
I often talk about shifting perspectives. If you decide that you want solitude and use the time to paint, relax with an adult coloring book or write. It could help you. I know firsthand. Since March, I have begun painting again, and it has brought me great joy.
If you feel lonely, you are not alone on your journey. There are plenty of people who are there for you. And, if you take any of the aforementioned steps you’ll not only begin to work through your own loneliness, but you’re likely to help someone else.