“One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.”
So said Mother Teresa, and how true that sentiment is. I’ve been thinking a lot about that and about loneliness. I truly believe it is one of the biggest issues we face in this hyper-technologically-connected world. People have hundreds, if not thousands of friends on Facebook, yet in reality they feel alone.
People work non-stop to stay above the brink and go home to empty apartments and homes worried that they are alone. Nobody to anybody.
I know there are people who say they are never lonely. I’m not one of them.
In fact I have talked to so many people of all ages who whisper to me about their loneliness like it’s a fatal disease that no one but them has, and for which their is no cure. Teenagers I’ve spoken to tell me they feel alone in real life but that their identies online contradict that truth. Women I talk to tell me about the pain of the empty house, the loneliness that descends after children leave or when partners work around the clock.
We are often told that only in the quiet and alone time can we truly come to know ourselves, become whole and find our calling, yet being alone often terrifies us.
Loneliness is scary. What if it’s true that we are nobody to anybody? I’ve met many people in my life, and those who make an effort to be part of a community are the ones I’ve discovered truly feel that they are someone to somebody.
In fact I recently wrote a poem for a friend with that exact title: “Someone to Somebody.”
The truth is we are all someone.
If you find yourself struggling with that truth, reach out to a community. Find a church. Join a local gym. Start a book club. Find a meditation class. Join our A Woman’s Nation community online and then get involved on the ground. Volunteer for Special Olympics in your community. Go to a Boys & Girls Club and become someone to somebody there who might be feeling like nobody themselves. Host a pot-luck dinner.
I suggested that last activity to my eldest daughter Katherine. She recently moved into an apartment and hasn’t met many of her neighbors. People don’t seem to convene outside of the Internet anymore. Neighborhoods used to have block parties so that the people living near one another could meet and connect. I don’t know if it’s true where you live, but in my town, those social activities seem to be a thing of the past. We should resurrect them. There’s something very important about connection. It battles loneliness, provides tangible connection and interpersonal identities. It makes you someone to someone.
Know that you are not alone with this feeling of isolation and loneliness. Saying it, not whispering it, is step one for overcoming it. Step two is realizing that when you do acknowledge isolation, you are on your way forward towards friendships. Towards community. Towards reality. Towards the realization that you are indeed somebody to someone. Probably many someone’s.
So, my mission for you is this: Put yourself out there and be available. Join a community you’re interested in (or a few). Let me know how it goes. I’ll do the same. And as always, #PassItForward.
[Image via Pinterest]