I have felt desperately lonely at times this past year. I know this is a common feeling for many who have lost a partner. In fact, reading others’ stories of loneliness and sadness is one of the major reasons I resolved to change my circumstances. I was terrified that these feelings would last for a long time, as they had for so many others. Since I knew that I don’t like being home, much less home alone, for more than a day, I determined to make a concerted effort to find things to do.
On Saturday, I spent the day at home. It was rainy so I was ok being home alone with the dog as I had many things to do. It was a good day, both relaxing and productive. I’ve always been fine spending a day at home, but one day seems to be my limit before I go stir crazy. This has always been the case for me, even during the times when the kids were young and the house was full of people. After one day, I needed to get out. This feeling of being confined happened fairly often when I was living up north, as the cold and snowy weather of NJ winters often left us home bound for a few days. When I moved to Florida, I rarely felt the need to stay at home even a single day, as the warm weather allowed for easy access to the outdoors and a simple walk outside or car ride was easy to do to break the monotony. However, doing it solo can be very lonely.
As I was home on Saturday, I planned an outing for Sunday. I decided to attend the opening of a local Film Festival. It started with a champagne brunch, and included a short animated film, a feature film, and a discussion with the director and artist. All for $36! I went alone, although I thought (hoped!) I might find people I knew there. I recognized a few people, but they were already seated at a full table or working the event so there was no opportunity to chat. I found a table with a few open seats and asked to join them. We introduced ourselves and they were nice enough, but soon they were just talking in couples amongst themselves. I awkwardly sipped my coffee. I was out of the house, in a room full of people, but still I felt terribly lonely. Shortly before the films were about to start, another solo person sat at our table. It was nice to have someone to talk to, even for a short while. I enjoyed the film and the discussion. I spoke with one of the event chairs who invited me to join the committee to select the films for next year’s film festival. I was glad I went.
I feel brave and resilient in my resolve to get out and attend events solo. I am hoping that being open to new experiences and people will make me happier and less lonely. But know this - it is so, so hard to walk into a room alone. I long for the day when this will be easier to do but I’m not sure this will come any time soon.
What can you do? Invite your single friend to go out with you - to an event, a movie, to dinner, or even just for a walk, or to come over and watch tv. I know I’d rather be a “third wheel” than walk in to an event alone. If you’re out and you see someone on their own, make an effort to say hello and engage in a conversation. You never know whom you might meet! And if you have no plans, a simple text to say that you’re thinking of them would go a long way.