Feeling lonely in your twenties is not something we tend to associate with young people. We assume that those in their twenties will be living the time of their lives, going travelling, being out with friends and building relationships and families. But your twenties can easily become a lonely time as we all try to find our place in the world.
I wanted to talk about loneliness as I think it is something that is so easily to fall into at any stage in your life, yet is still quite stigmatised. It is hard to admit that you are lonely to those around you, as it is something that can be quite misunderstood. Loneliness is more than being physically alone, it’s more than just the lack of opportunity to go out anywhere. It can be a combination of factors that make you feel like it is harder to approach those around you.
How do you make new friends in your twenties?
Making new friends as an adult can be really tricky, as you don’t tend to have that immediate group around you like with school and university. When you start a new job, it’s likely that friendship groups will already be formed, and it can be challenging to feel part of something that already exists. If you don’t have a traditional 9-5 job, that can be even harder as you may find yourself working with different people day to day.
As an adult, you are limited as to where you meet people. Sure, you make friends with the girls in the toilets of the bar on Saturday night, but that is usually a fleeting 5 minutes of contact that is quickly forgotten on Sunday morning. In your twenties, I actually think you lack opportunity to meet new people in the right scenarios. Where we tend to meet people, at work or the gym or a bar, people are not necessarily looking for long term friendship and that first interaction can be seriously intimidating.
Of course, we do have something that our parents didn’t. The online world is a great place to seek like-minded individuals and even those that feel the same way. Online friendships can take a lot of hard work, as you are essentially trying to befriend a stranger behind a screen, but if you can make it work, they can be invaluable.
The transition into adulting is bloody difficult
As we get older, it is natural that people move around the country and we all take on more responsibilities which can make maintaining existing relationships really hard. Sometimes something as simple as sending a quick text can be really comforting, as you are letting that person know that you are still thinking of them.
Social media can be great for bringing us together and keeping in touch with those further away, but it can also add fuel to the fire of loneliness as we witness our peers leading a life we are somewhat jealous of. Dealing with the quarter life crisis that is your twenties is a lot more to do with what we see on Instagram that anything else. When you see your peers buying houses, having children or even just with a solid friendship group out clubbing every weekend, it can be easy to start comparing their life to yours, forgetting that their life and their choices are completely different to your own.
Learning to love yourself for who you are
I may not have completely nailed this one yet, but I’m getting there. Learning to love spending time by yourself and appreciating your own company can work wonders for feelings of loneliness. I think it’s really important to be comfortable and secure in who you are, as this then prevents you from relying on the approval and validation of others.
If we get a little personal, I find that I really value what others think of me. If I hear something negative about myself, or I don’t get invited to an event for example, it really affects me when actually I should be confident and comfortable in who I am.
Let’s break the stigma
Admitting that you are feeling lonely in your twenties can be a very exposing and vulnerable experience. I think people see loneliness as someone sat in their home on their own, so when someone who doesn’t fit this stereotype expresses that emotion, it can take people by surprise. Feelings of loneliness often sit alongside issues such as paranoia, anxiety and depression. In times where more and more young people are struggling with their mental health, it shouldn’t be coming as a shock that more of us are feeling lonely too.
The more we talk openly about loneliness at all ages, the easier it will be for those experiencing it to reach out.