Know thy self...loneliness/happiness

I can't recall if I ever introduced why I'm writing these weekly articles. I've always had an interest in writing and creating stories, and simultaneously I'm interested in reflecting on design, decision-making and life in general. For a good while I've felt that my life has been too busy for me to work on all the things I would like to (like novel writing). Therefore I figured that writing an article once each week would be a smart way to improve my writing even if I wasn't able to write fiction.

So far so good. I'm doing it each week and I'm enjoying it in week 14 (I think). 

Loneliness

Without further delay; this weeks article is about loneliness. Yes as silly and happy as I am, with a couple of great friend groups, I am lonely. I knew I was a little down for a while, and I realised that I'm experiencing some degree of loneliness. 

I'm naturally more of an introvert and often enjoy carving downtime for more restful solitude; so I'm happy to be alone and this usually doesn't affect me. For anyone curious, my personal thought on what makes an introvert is someone who finds social situations draining. This is true of me, I enjoy socialising but I could only go all day with one or two people, the more people there are the sooner I feel fatigued and want to head somewhere peaceful to recharge.

I'm a classic case of sticking to my guns and leaving the party when I want.

My cute little loneliness illustration

My cute little loneliness illustration

Back to loneliness. Admitting it was quite helpful, it became real and was a problem that is solvable. Subconsciously I feel that I already knew I was lonely and already began exploring solutions before my conscious mind caught up. I think there's a bit of stigma around being lonely, as it kind of marks a person as a social outcast. Being lonely can often feel like a failure, I don't feel people understand it as it doesn't get the coverage of other mental health issues. The key thing for me was understanding exactly why I was lonely. 

But I'm realising and learning that there are a bunch of types of loneliness, and it can be just one aspect in a life that I'm missing out on. 

There's a cool podcast episode by Gretchen Rubin. (http://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2017/03/podcast-110-lonely/). There they identify a bunch of types of loneliness, and when I listened to the episode it was sort of like an a-ha! moment. I now knew exactly how to define my experience. The below list is taken from Gretchen's podcast post. 

  • New-situation loneliness
  • I’m-different loneliness
  • No-sweetheart loneliness
  • No-time-for-me loneliness
  • Untrustworthy-friends loneliness
  • Quiet-presence loneliness
  • No-animal loneliness
  • No-friend-group loneliness
  • I’m-alone-in-this-experience loneliness
  • Parent-of-young-children loneliness/Empty-nest loneliness
  • Everyone-else-is-having-fun loneliness

So what lonely am I?

The two types of loneliness I've realised have crept into my life are "I'm different" and "I'm alone in this experience". In all honesty I think these are probably the unforeseen consequences of positive changes in my life. For a while I've been thinking more about the life I want to live, and working towards enjoying that. This is generally a life of creativity, adventure and growth. With adventure and freedom featuring heavily, those things comprise going out hiking as much as I can, riding out on my bike and immersing myself in photography. 

I feel live I've made progress, beginning to go out on more adventures and making the best use of my time. I've also recently (as of last summer) learned to ride a motorbike, this has given me a whole lot of freedom and is one of the best decisions I've made. I fucking love my motorbike!

However it's not without pitfalls. I don't know any close friends who have motorbikes. So in that experience I'm alone (and painfully aware of it when riding on sunny days). As for photography, adventuring and hiking, again I don't seem to know anyone who enjoys that with a similar passion as me, and whilst I do have some good friends with those interests their life circumstances are different to mine and so meetups can be rare. So I feel alone in those experiences.  

I think together both those examples contribute to a feeling of "I'm different". My availability and time seems to be a lot more open than a lot of those I know. And on top of that, my recent forays into photography meetups and very recently motorbike meetups leave me with a sense of not fitting in. The loneliness of 'being different' I think is caused by the difference between my knowledge of my inner self and how I represent myself to others.

In plain terms; I'm a gay, vegetarian biker, and that feels pretty rare in the realm of motorcycling (more so than creative pursuits). So I don't know exactly where I fit in and find it hard to be 100% me. Kinda frustrating and I think that's the main cause of my "I'm different" loneliness.  Motorbiking is an area I'd love to make a few friends. It's something where I'm painfully aware of my isolation and it makes my anxiety tough to manage; at the moment I hate when other bikers are tailing me and I find motorbike hot-spots like Matlock Bath kinda uncomfortable to pass through. So I need to work on this. In honest terms, I've gotten into my head about the issue which is very frustrating in itself.

What am I going to do?

I'm glad that I'm already carving time to go to a hiking/photography meetup in the peaks, and another photography meet in Nottingham. I'm happy that I went to my first motorbike meetup recently. So mainly I think I need to just keep doing what I'm doing and allow time for friends to flourish (and to chill out in the meantime).

Ultimately my loneliness is not having the right friends in the right places. I'm workin' on it. 

Objectives/goals:

  • Keep attending the peaks collective meetups 
  • Keep attending the Notts photo meetup each month
  • Go to a motorcycle meetup at least once each month
  • Check out meetup.com to look for like-minded hiking/adventure groups
  • Go to Matlock to 'hang out' (I'm going to hate this one)
  • Make closer connections with those I already know

So this is me blathering on. The different types of loneliness are very interesting (as is the podcast, give it a listen) and I expect everyone will recognise something that effected them past or present. 

Hope you're having a great week,
Dan