I've been thinking a lot about loneliness lately and, this week, have started talking with others about it. I often feel lonely — yet, as I age, I am more choosey about who I spend time with. As an introvert I enjoy my own company as well so, often, I choose to be alone.
It's a strange conundrum but, as I've talked to friends and colleagues about it, I realise I'm not alone. Loneliness seems to be a thing of our time. Maybe it always has been. And it's not just single people. Those in relationships say they're lonely too.
They feel familiar and yet they're not. You feel sad but there's no relationship to mourn. Life goes on with nothing missing.
Perhaps there's even a subconscious, yet obviously false, belief that someone so well-known would have something to live for. Everything even.
Not often when one person says, "It's ok, you're not the only one(s)."
Paul Hawken's speech at the Bioneers conference on the world's largest movement, which is comprised of hundreds of thousands of grassroots organizations that address social and environmental justice. This speech stemmed from Hawken's book, "Blessed Unrest," which laid the groundwork for WiserEarth (Wiser.org). Wiser.org empowers and connects like-minded individuals and organizations around the World - Together we are striving to create change through our passion for sustainability and social justice.
Many years ago I had an inkling that I didn't fit in. Nonetheless, for years after, I kept trying. The disabled community, the Youthline community, the gay community, even the comedian scene (it's not really a community) — in each I tried to find a common thread, a sense of belonging or, as Seth Godin might say, my tribe.
Alas, each time I threw myself with open arms into these groups — whom I thought would surely embrace me and with whom, in return, I would live happily ever after — I emerged feeling disappointed, rejected, irritated or just reluctantly affirmed: I didn't fit in.
Brené Brown has made an important distinction – in her work on shame, vulnerability and wholeheartedness –between fitting in and belonging. Fitting in, she says, is not belonging. Fitting in is changing yourself to be like the people with whom you want to feel a sense of belonging. True belonging, by contrast, is being accepted for who you are, fully and without exception, by that group of people.