Friday, June 23

Liked and Lonely

How many likes did you get on your last Instagram post? What about on your new Facebook profile picture? Do you remember how many people commented on your last post? We're a very "liked" society. If we're not careful, we can get caught up in basing our worth and value in the likes  by others (and often thee others are strangers or people we barely know). How is it then, that we can be "liked" by so many  people yet still feel lonely? How come we fill our Facebook event calendar with "interested" stars but when it comes to actually going out you can't find anyone to go with you? Or what about when you're having a rough day and need someone to talk to, can you call the last person who liked your post? Probably not because we're liked and lonely.

I admit it: I have placed a lot of my self-worth and value in whether or not people like me. Do the popular girls in high school invite me to their parties? Does that University want to accept me into their school? Will the super cute guy down the hall notice me? Will the company I interview with hire me? I have always been wrapped up in one way or another if people "like" me. I wanted to be liked so badly and even when I was affirmed and 'liked' by others, I still felt horribly alone.

I had some great friends in high school but still struggled with self esteem and worth. In college I was involved in clubs and sports and even a sorority but still struggled with confidence and depression. I thought that once I graduated and started my 'real' life it would be better, I would be happy and have wonderful friends and wouldn't face the throngs of loneliness. Well let me tell you, as a woman in her late 20s, I still feel liked and lonely. This isn't  something I'm going through alone, and do you want to know why...because I see women all around  me struggling with this epidemic in silence too.

The epidemic
Look around you; sit in an airport or Starbucks without your cellphone or laptop in your hand. I dare you for thirty minutes to not be plugged into something and just observe. Our technology is our defense mechanism, our walls. If we appear busy, no one will notice that we're ______ [fill in the blank with the thing you're dealing with, the emotions you're feeling, the issue you're avoiding]. I bet I know how you'll feel as well: UNCOMFORTABLE. Being vulnerable is so uncomfortable and awkward and that is exactly why after about ten minutes of sitting unplugged you'll start itching for the safety net of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. It's uncomfortable to be without your safety shield; the one that can deflect a situation and allows you to shut yourself off to the world. It's uncomfortable--- but so is being lonely ladies!

I am going to have an honest moment here: I am miserably lonely. If you look at my IG profile you wouldn't guess it but that's because it's a P-R-O-F-I-L-E! It's my highlight reel not reality. (Another newsflash, probably 99.9% of my pictures are edited #ILoveThatValenciaFilter). My career allows me the incredible opportunity to travel the country for a living and it's an amazing adventure but it can be quite the lonely affair. I fly by myself, I travel by myself, I eat by myself, I adventure by myself. There are times where I love the solitude and don't cross me because I'm one tough-butt-independent-woman-solo-traveler but still it gets lonely out there. 

I long for real friendships and relationships but it's been really hard to cultivate these meaningful relationships. Anyone else out there feel the same? I have hundreds of virtual "friends" but months ago when I was having an incredibly difficult day, I scrolled through my contact list and literally felt like I couldn't call one single friend in that list. How can that be?! I was devastated. In a moment where I needed someone the most, I had no one to call on. I was completely friendless in a "friend"-filled world. I realized that there was this epidemic around me and I was involved in it as well. I've become so numb to the virtual world of friendship that I realized I wasn't sure how to cultivate real friendships around me.

The cure
I don't know a cure, so if you're looking for a 3-step prescription plan you unfortunately won't find one here. Unfortunately, I'm still trying to figure it out myself. I started volunteering at a charity, a got involved in an association at work, I joined a new church, I joined a Bible study, I've put my phone away at the coffee shop and yet I'm still sitting here liked and lonely. I know that these enriching friendships are out there because I see other women in them. I know that God places people in our lives for specific seasons and reasons. I also know that Satan's main goal is to keep us isolated and lonely. If Satan can keep us separated and feeling alone, we won't be able to flourish and live out God's plan for our lives. 

I wonder though, if there was a way for us women to come together to connect and really form relationships how the world would change? This isn't just a disease that affects the Millennial generation or those women who are using social media- it knows no age or socioeconomic or race limitation [and  on that same thought, I'm sure men go through these same things but I'm just speaking from a female perspective]. Women in their 70s who have lost their husband and suddenly feeling very alone in the world are feeling the same thing as those of us in our late 20s, 40s and 50s. What if these women banded together and took a stand against Satan's attempts to isolate and devour us in depression? What if we created a Sisterhood of women who decide enough is enough, we are done being LIKED AND LONELY and are ready to be LOVED AND LIVING? I think it'd be a life changer for all of us living in loneliness in a liked-age.