On loneliness


I feel lonely, kind of all the time.

I am learning to look at this as not a bad thing – but it’s taken a long time for me to reach this perspective. As a little girl, I always had a best friend – that one major person to whom I had undying loyalty, and who had the unspoken and understood privilege of access to every area of my life. No secrets kept, no socializing without the other, and the same was expected from the other person. Utter devotion.

There is safety that comes along with a best friend; you never have to go it alone.

This best friend figure has shifted several times throughout my life – sometimes a girl, sometimes a woman twice my age, sometimes a boyfriend – but as I’ve gotten older, the role has changed. I have several very close friends, and yet none of them fill the role that I became accustomed to as a child; in short, several people are “best” and no one is “best.” I do not have that constant companion, the person that I share every secret of my soul with.

But I think that’s okay.

The more humans that I come into contact with, I realize more and more that everyone just wants to belong – it is our greatest need, our greatest desire. Everyone longs to be known, to be loved and appreciated, and for a place called “home.” I feel it so acutely, and often ask the same question that I would wager that we all ask: “Does anyone really see me?”

Currently, I am in a very interesting, uncertain time in my life. I am asking some major questions about who I am, what I want, where I belong, what I am meant to do, what I am good at, what I love, and where I am headed. I don’t know. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. I just don’t know. I have never felt simultaneously more certain and uncertain about my worth, my gifting, and my direction. I wish someone could come along and just tell me, just say, “This is who you are and this is what you’re good at – and this is what you were meant for. Now go do it.”

I feel lonely.

But maybe loneliness isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe it isn’t something to be avoided. We are so quick to numb ourselves these days – avoid bad, scary feelings at all costs by “fixing” the problem. Feel sad? Go shopping. Eat a bunch of food. Drink away the pain. Seek thrills. Hook up with some stranger. Run the other way. Slam the door in the face of whatever ails you.

But maybe we are wrong. Maybe when we feel sad and lonely, we are supposed to just go ahead and feel sad and lonely.

If I had a “best friend,” I’m pretty sure that I would still get lonely. If I was dating someone, or married, or had babies, or had the perfect career, or drove an Audi, or was famous, or had a ton of money, or was insanely smart… I would still get lonely. There is a place inside each of us that will never be reached by anyone or anything else, no matter how much these things resonate with our souls. This is the place that keeps us seeking God; I think we were designed this way on purpose.

Maybe loneliness is simply an indication of our uniqueness. Maybe loneliness acts as a catalyst to lead us to change the world. Maybe loneliness drives us to change, and to seek out adventure. Maybe loneliness makes us free.



  1. Anonymous on April 23, 2007 at 1:13 PM

    we should definitely chat about this sometime. I have distinct experiences that echo exactly what you’re saying…. MJ

  2. hootenannie on April 23, 2007 at 5:52 PM

    Yes, let’s talk! I think that a lot of people feel this way, but they just don’t say so. Let’s meet for coffee halfway – which would mean… northern BC.

  3. Jennifer on August 2, 2009 at 8:17 PM

    This is how I feel, right now, today.

  4. ::Learning:: « A Beautiful Imperfection on August 2, 2009 at 10:36 PM

    […] She said it best here. […]

  5. Pamela on March 25, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    Sometimes I’m afraid that loneliness is a trap. If I get used to, and thus comfortable with, my loneliness, does that mean I will lose the part of me that is social, happy in crowds, and eager for company?

    These days, I look forward to a night alone in the gym and with my home-cooked meal. Plans made with only good intentions inevitably leave me stressing about them last minute. “Why did I commit to this?” “Now I can’t work out tonight!” “Ugh, I just want to eat in my own kitchen.”

    And yet I spent painful, aching moments alone wishing for a companion, for someone to climb into my head with me and share in my thoughts.


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