Is it just me or does anyone else wonder how loneliness can possibly exist in a city that is buzzing with people 24/7?
How can people literally live on top of each other in apartment block after apartment block yet feel so lonely?
I asked myself this question as I sat staring through the window, admiring the Empire State Building one night.
My roommate was out of town and I was home alone on a Saturday evening. The plans I’d made to meet friends had been cancelled and even though I’ve met so many people, I felt like I was alone in this big city.
Tears came to my eyes; I wondered whether I’d just swapped the lonely city of London for the lonely city of New York.
But then the blurry picture of the tall buildings outside pierced through my tears and I took a deep breath. I was in the city that doesn’t sleep; there were bound to be people milling around in the streets and I was sure to find them if I went looking.
I decided to stroll up to Times Square. As I joined the tourist hustle, dipping in and out of shops, looking up at the bright flashing lights and dodging the cartoon characters prancing around the sidewalk (surely it was past their bedtime), I was on my own but certainly didn’t feel alone.
I was out for a few hours and felt much better when I returned home. I’d spent my evening with strangers who didn’t even realize they were spending it with me.
I was back and the feeling of loneliness was nowhere to be found. I wondered where it had disappeared to, considering I hadn’t actually spoken to anyone and I hadn’t made any new friends. I heard a small voice speak to me from inside. The voice told me that I hadn’t been alone at all. I had always had me.
While I’d been focusing on the lack of external companionship, I’d been neglecting the one person I did have: me. No wonder she’d ended up in tears, feeling so bad, rejected and lonely.
Imagine what it would feel like seeing someone crying about being alone and having no one, when you’re sitting right there beside them. I don’t know about you, but I’d certainly feel quite bad and think, “Aren’t I good enough?”
Now imagine that this same person stops crying, looks at you and says, “Get your coat on. You and I are going for a walk!” Wouldn’t that make you feel so much better? Wouldn’t that put a huge smile on your face? As soon as I’d decided to pick myself up and do something on my own, I was no longer alone.
There’s a time for everything and sometimes we need to be around people, and socialize and connect. Other times, we just need to spend time with ourselves. We need to be happy and excited about being who we are and enjoy that time.
If we find ourselves feeling lonely at any point, even in the buzz of a highly-populated city, we should consider whether we’ve just been given an opportunity to show ourselves some tender loving care and spend time with us.