“So, how have you been? How is your PhD going?“, asked Sanah
“It’s going fine. Monotonous but fine.” I said. After a pause, I added, “It gets lonely sometimes though.”
She smiled empathetically at me on hearing this. I mean who would understand loneliness better than her, given her current situation. She recently shifted to Singapore to pursue a doctorate from one of the most prestigious universities. This was supposed to be the most exciting time for her. I mean moving out of the comfort of home for the first time after 25 years is kind of exciting, right? Yet she wasn’t as happy or satisfied as she thought she would be. Why you may ask. Because she felt lonely. She doesn’t have any friends there. Her colleagues also seem to talk to her only when they need some professional help.
I am also a doctoral candidate in one of the universities in India. I am working on mental health. On happiness, to be specific. But here I was sharing my bit of how I often feel lonely in the city of Delhi despite living here for almost a decade. The best part is I am perceived as a happy go lucky and very extroverted person. But at this very moment, I was feeling down. Down with loneliness.
We were meeting after a year. We had a lot to catch up on. But it was surprising how much time we spent discussing how lonely we feel nowadays. We are in fact very privileged. We know and appreciate that, but sometimes, loneliness just gets under your skin and all you feel is the mental pain of not having anyone around you.
Despite the fact that you are constantly surrounded by people, yet you remain lonely. Netflix and Amazon Prime could also help us only to a certain extent. We need a human connect, a genuine human connection. We also discussed how being lonely can also make you take certain actions which you would not have taken otherwise, ‘the acts of desperation’ if I may call them so.
We then ended up talking about some of our friends who also shared their accounts of constantly feeling lonely with us. Do you know what is funny about this? Almost everyone we knew or spoke about was complaining of feeling lonely in their respective lives. Yet nobody was doing anything to make the situation any better. Including me, Sanah and even you (you too probably are feeling lonely if you are reading this up until this point). That’s why I just wanted to go ahead and do something. Even if it was something as little as this note. Because honestly, this has been bugging me ever since my friend and I had this discussion. So, in a very humble yet heartfelt attempt, I went ahead and penned down a note of kindness to give hope to those millenials who constantly feel lonely. The note goes something like this:
“Loneliness can be okay, it cannot be great for sure. People who romanticise it, have gotten it all wrong. I, in fact, feel that they haven’t really felt lonely yet. Being alone can be good but only to a certain extent. After a while, we all need at least one person that we can connect with, share our experiences with. We are too busy glamorising loneliness because it seems that actually dealing with it is a much more painstaking or uncool task, and who wants to appear uncool, right? Hence the ‘forever happy and content’ Instagram stories. But I urge you to not fall for this ‘happy and content’ crap. This is all a facade to distract oneself from the real issue. The real issue of loneliness and the loss of genuine human connection. This is causing more mental health issues than ever, depression being one of many manifestations of it. So start taking care of yourself and reach out to your friends. Tell them what you are feeling and what you need from them. It might also happen that they are feeling exactly what you are going through. Just put it out there. Don’t be afraid of not being happy and chirpy all the time. It’s alright to feel a bit under the weather at times. Consult an expert if need be. Just take care of yourself!”
So take a deep breath and always remember that even though you are lonely, it is not as bad as you think because at least you are healthy (or at least I hope so). I will let you in on a big secret and it’s that “we are all lonely, but the beauty of it is that we are all together in this too“. We are all lonely together. So let’s share our stories more. The ‘real-raw-not-so-happy-stories’ because I feel that is what unites us as humans and not the flashy beach vacay Instagram stories. Get in tune with yourself. Find your centre. In fact, try getting in touch with me if all fails, I promise it will all get over.
-Just another millennial going through a quarter-life crisis.