Feeling lonely is sort of weird in this day and age. You can make contact with friends or family, wherever they are, pretty much instantly. If you live in a city, or commute to one, a lot of the time you are in constant close contact with others, for better or worse. It almost feels like if anything there are too many people around, taking up space, breathing down our necks. And after a short ride on the subway it’s hard not to feel desperate for breathing space, for quiet, for some time alone. But despite it feeling contradictory, I think it can be common to feel desperate for space, solitude, the freedom of “me time” and at the same time long for connection, for the joy of spending time with other people and sharing experiences.

Some people say that the feeling of loneliness is really a feeling of loneliness from self, a disconnectedness, a separation from us. If we are really, truly with ourselves, we can’t feel lonely. And maybe that makes sense. If we are all one and the same, if we are each made up of light, then if we are with ourselves, in the deepest sense possible, then we are with everyone and everything. If we have ourselves we have everything and how can we feel lonely?

But how do you really be with yourself, fully and completely and not feel alone or disconnected? Maybe by being honest with what you need and how you feel and allowing every and any feeling to be ok with you, including loneliness, sadness, anger. And to be willing to go deep and see what is there, underneath all the layers and really find out about yourself. To take yourself, and what you want and need seriously and to be gentle with those desires because often they can be quite vulnerable and precious. And to truly care and nurture yourself from a place of joy and love. Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away with “self care” practices and they can become almost militant and automated, more of a chore or another pressure rather than intuitive, loving and joyful practices to look after yourself. But none of this is particularly easy, it takes time, patience and also maybe it’s not enough.

Because even though it can be hard to admit it sometimes, we really do seem to need other people. We need them to talk to and laugh with and to sit with and experience life with. It can be easy to tell ourselves we are self sufficient, independent, strong, determined and capable of doing anything ourselves. You might also tell yourself that you need alone time to recharge, reset and restore. To get back to yourself. And feel like that is impossible with others around all the time. But are we becoming too insular, too self-reliant? Are we turning our backs on the connections that we need to live fulfilled and happy lives?

It seems like a sort of hard thing to admit that you’re lonely. Maybe it feels like a bit of a weakness or failure to admit that you need people, or that you can’t find the people that you need or want to be with. But I actually think it’s quite hard to keep forming connections, to keep finding people. As you get older our tolerance levels seem to reduce. If a person doesn’t resonate straight away, it’s easy to dismiss them totally. We seem to sort of look for all the reasons why not to make a connection, rather than why we should. Maybe that comes from a fear of being hurt (again), a fear of being vulnerable in front of someone else or a fear that we are unloveable and unlikeable.

Maybe it’s important to go through periods of loneliness to realise that you do need and want other people around. We can get carried away with personal goals and progress and careers and things we want to achieve and forget that our connections are a part of life too. There isn’t anything wrong with feeling lonely and there is nothing wrong with you if you do. It is legitimate, like any other feeling. And even though it feels like we are alone in our loneliness, I actually think it’s quite a common feeling that we all will feel at time to time, whatever your age or stage of life. By really acknowledging your loneliness you can then bring some compassion to yourself and treat yourself kinder and be a better friend to yourself. And maybe if you want to meet new people or form better connections all it takes is the intention to open up to see who is around you and think about what connects you rather than what separates you.

Wherever you are, whoever you’re with, enjoy this: