Loneliness when you move abroad

You can be amongst crowds, in small groups or with a friend, and still feel lonely. If everyone turns up apart from the one person you actually want there, that empty longing can make you feel lonely.

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 it was the end of the week and I felt like I hadn’t had a chance to breathe. Before I knew it, ‘alone time’ became ‘wind down and chill out at home’ time, rather than actually doing an activity on my own, whether it be going for dinner, writing or just going for a walk. 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.

Loneliness was the one thing I feared before moving abroad. I had mentally prepared myself for it as I was aware that with being in a new city, having a new job and making new friends, there was a possibility that loneliness could hit me hard.

Surprisingly enough, I was quite busy when I first relocated. I had heaps of admin to do, needed to buy everything that wouldn’t fit into my two suitcases and was socialising a lot. Once summer was over and things quietened down, I realised that I often didn’t have any plans. Me!? No plans!? Even I was surprised. But I was no longer surrounded by 25 years of friendships and due to living in a small city rather than a big city, it wasn’t taking me up to an hour to get from place to place.

How did I cope with this?

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.
Until one day, I stopped. I suddenly stopped because I realised that I was no longer doing these things on my own to avoid loneliness and distract my mind, I was actually enjoying spending quality time in my own company.

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 super extrovert, as am I, or perhaps a bit insecure. But believe me, starting to enjoy your own company as much as you enjoy spending time with friends 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. Reading, drawing, crocheting and blogging are all a good place to start, even if it’s just for one or two hours.

So 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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