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A Note Of Kindness And Hope To Millennials Who Constantly Feel Lonely

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.

Warm Regards

-Just another millennial going through a quarter-life crisis.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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