Loneliness when you live abroad

Loneliness: A feeling of discomfort and sadness because you don’t have the company you want around you.

I understand why people avoid this feeling, it’s not pleasant at all, but what about when you don’t have a choice and there’s no one to spend time with?

When back home in London, my diary was busy for weeks on end. I literally had to schedule ‘alone time’ in my diary so that come Sunday night I was not wondering why the weekend was over and I felt like I hadn’t had a chance to breathe. There was never really any time to just enjoy my own company and I didn’t make the time either. If something else came up, which it usually did, I would cancel my ‘alone time’ to go out with friends. I also found it difficult because people, including myself, wouldn’t see ‘alone time’ as a big enough commitment not to cancel.

Fearing loneliness

Loneliness was the one thing I feared about moving abroad. I was aware that with being in a new city, having a new job and having to make new friends, there was a possibility that loneliness would hit me hard.

Surprisingly enough, I was quite busy when I first relocated. I had heaps of admin to do and needed to buy everything that wouldn’t fit into the two suitcases that I packed my life in to move abroad. I was very active in expat groups and was even socialising quite a lot. However, once summer was over and things quietened down, I realised that I often didn’t have any plans. This contrast in lifestyle left me feeling lonely, something I’d not really experienced before.

How did I cope with loneliness?

I went on a lot of walks; I found new parks and got to know the city. Sitting indoors all day wasn’t going to make my life any more exciting and although it was cold, it was refreshing. I spoke to friends back home a lot (thank you Whats’app and Facetime), and I wrote. Reflecting and planning helps me to focus on the positive.

I kept myself busy with the above, until one day it hit me that I was no longer doing these things on my own to distract myself from loneliness, I was actually enjoying spending quality time in my own company.

Loneliness vs being alone

There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely. I mentioned this when I posted about travelling solo, but I think it can take a while to learn, especially if you are an extrovert like me, or perhaps a bit insecure. But believe me, learning how to enjoy your own company as much as you enjoy spending time with others is a good feeling. It’s different, but it’s good different.

But it’s not that easy

No it’s not that easy, but finding something that you can enjoy doing alone helps a lot. Something you do to spend time on your own, rather than fill time on your own.

Although my life style is not as hectic as it was in London, I have learnt to use the extra time to enjoy my own company and properly wind down. If I ever move back to London, spending time on my own will be as high a priority as spending time with my friends. I have learnt to love my own company just as much as I love theirs.

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