Why do I feel so lonely?

You’re grieving the loss of a friend, says our elder. 

The key is to take a moment and stay with your feelings.


Dear EWC

I (16,m) have been feeling incredibly lonely, isolated and depressed for the last few months. I feel that there are many driving factors but I really just am not sure. It’s not that I’m unlikeable or disgusting or just can’t get along with people. On the surface at my school, I get along with everyone and I’m considered somewhat outgoing. However, I do not feel connected to them in any way and there are only a few of them I can even bear to tolerate. I do not want to speak to them outside of school at all. I’m not sure if it’s some subconscious issue rooted in my ego or some kind of imposter syndrome. It’s not that I just hate people or anything. If I did, I wouldn’t feel incredibly lonely, would I? 

It’s gotten worse after I stopped talking to a childhood friend who I feel I was actually truly friends with. I just stopped talking to him because I feel he’s a bad influence on me. He’s the kind of person who has no ambition or discipline. When I hang out with him too much my grades also begin to slip. I’m not even sure if I’m depressed or just lonely. It’s not like I want to kill myself or anything; though I wouldn’t have minded never have being born or existed. I would never kill myself or hurt myself on purpose and I’ll always do what’s in my best interest if I can. I just need some guidance on how I can stop being how I am right now. Thanks for reading.


Purple-Finch replies

If you will allow me to guess, I believe you are grieving the loss of your friend. And why would you not? He provided a great deal of companionship for you. But you are moving on. You can see that his ways are not your ways, and so you are taking this difficult step to move down your own path rather than stay with him. It is, to my way of thinking, very much like a love affair gone sour. When a relationship is breaking off, we are sad. We see that it is not what we had hoped it would be. 

In this life, we love many people. Some are good for us and some are not so good. And so some people must be left. And yes, it is painful. You have asked: “How can I stop being how I am right now?” I think my answer may startle you. I have found that when I have feelings I do not enjoy, it is usually best to take a moment to stay with those feelings. Actually, wallow in them. It will not be pleasant, but it takes only a few minutes. When we stop to acknowledge bad feelings, they often lose their power over us. But we (or at least I) must stop to recognize what is making me sad. I do not like this process because my sadness tends to overwhelm me. But it is more like a fierce wave than a constant bath. The wave passes and I can pick myself up and go on with life.

I believe that feelings are a rather crude way of telling us something important. And those feelings need to be heard. It is as if they won’t go away until we give them our full attention.

Now in most cases you will want to do this as soon as the feeling hits. But if you are 16, then there are times you will want to postpone this pattern. Let’s say you are taking an exam, playing in an important competition, or acting in a play. You do not want to ignore the performance that is required of you right now. So go ahead with what you are doing and ignore the sadness. But when the intense activity is done, take a moment to recall the sadness and how bad it felt. Let it return, listen to it, feel it in your body. Give it your full attention so that it can do what it is meant to do, namely to tell you how you are. Give it the recognition that it craves so that it can feel it has done its job. Then, I believe, you will begin to feel better.

I am glad you wrote. I hope my words have helped.

Article #: 499381
Category: Friendship

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