The Loneliness Pandemic

So, how’s everybody doing? This is just me, checking in. Saying that it’s been a pretty crazy couple of weeks would be the understatement of the century, am I right? We’re almost 2 weeks into this whole self isolation thing thanks to the COVID-19 virus lockdown and to be honest, I’m already over it. (Also, a vast understatement!) I’m beyond over it. I’m already done. And this is coming from an avid introvert. I never thought I would see the day when I would absolutely loathe staying inside for such an extended period of time.

I used to love having time to myself. I used to crave it. That’s how us introverts recharge our batteries. While people who are more extroverted get their energy and come alive around large groups of people and constantly having plans, we introverts need time to ourselves to rest, reflect and prepare ourselves for the next big social gathering so that we can be at our very best. Most people assume that because I sing in front of people that I’m extraverted. There are actually different kinds of introverts. I’m more of a social introvert. I love singing in front of a crowd and I love meeting people because of it. It’s part of the gig and I enjoy it. I love how music always brings people together that way. I’m able to “flip the switch” from quiet introvert to social butterfly if it’s required of me. And because music always allows me to meet so many new people I’m always happy about that. The only catch is that afterwards, I’ll definitely need to crash and rest so that I can “re fuel” for next time.

This self isolation has shown me, perhaps for the first time, how much I need human connection and relationships. Perhaps many of you are realizing that as well. It seems to be something that we have taken for granted in this day and age where social media has become King. We’ve grown accustomed to prefer “likes” and “comments” over face to face, in the flesh connection. Facebook and Instagram have made if far too easy to stay at home and isolated. The only difference is just 2 weeks ago we were choosing to be isolated. Now that it’s being enforced, we’re going stir crazy and just want to leave the house and mingle and visit with each other again. Funny how that works.

Full disclosure? I am totally preaching to the choir here. I’ve notoriously isolated myself many times over the years, by choice. Turning myself into an island. Something we were never created to be. Especially during hard or stressful times or when something emotionally traumatic happens. Everyone deals with difficulties in their own way and self isolation has been my own little coping mechanism for many years. Especially the last few. The upside to that is nothing and nobody can possibly get in to hurt you ever again. The down side however, is that nothing and nobody can ever find their way in to love you, heal you, bring you joy or anything good for that matter. And the loneliness that that can lead to can not only be numbing but also way too comfortable.

I have, like so many others, dealt with loneliness many times over the years. The last few years, specifically for me. It isn’t a constant state of it. It comes and goes in waves. There have been times where it seemed almost palpable and so heavy. And, here’s me being totally vulnerable for a second, even crying myself to sleep because of it on those nights it seems unbearable. In those moments you feel pretty helpless, wondering if things will ever change. It can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re still in the depths of the tunnel. But it’s there. Every mile that we keep pressing on gets us one mile closer.

I truly believe that one of the most dangerous pandemics we have in our society today is that of loneliness. And as previously stated, social media has only worsened that as the years have gone on. While it can absolutely be a blessing in certain situations, it’s made us far too comfortable to sit on our couches by ourselves as we watch our friends and family live their lives through a screen rather than be an active participant. We seem to have lost the fine art of human connection. Anytime someone suggests that they want to come over and visit, most people wince or panic and try to think of any excuse as to why they’re “busy.” And because we live in an ‘anti-social’ society it makes it more difficult to even initiate a conversation about it.

I know for me personally, especially for us introverts, it can be very difficult for me to reach out and be the one to make plans with someone. I usually don’t bother because I assume the answer is most likely going to be no. And when that happens on a regular basis, you just stop trying because nobody wants to be that annoying person that just won’t go away or take a hint. But that’s the kind of society we’ve unfortunately created for ourselves today. Yet, here we are, going through an enforced isolation period and all anyone wants is human connection again. Proof that, even when this whole thing is over and done with, that we need to get back to making plans. Actual, in person, face to face plans with other humans. Whether it’s for coffee, dessert, dinner, a movie, getting together with friends for BBQ’s or bonfire’s. Or just good conversation with good company. To celebrate life and the great privilege it is to be able to freely do so.

I know many of us are all waiting for the day that we can freely do the things we love once again. Things that perhaps we might have allowed ourselves to take for granted. I, for one, can’t wait to get out and sing again! It’s driving me nuts not being able to do music or even to be able to go and see other live music. As soon as this thing is over with I’m so ready to hit the ground running and sing as often as possible. I can’t wait to go to concerts again, something I absolutely love! Or even something seemingly “simple” like being able to go over to friends houses just to hang out again and enjoy each others company.

In the meantime, how am I keeping my sanity? Well, you’re reading one of them…writing. I’m choosing to focus a lot more on writing in general, both blogs and music. I’ve also committed to continue my exercise routine at home now until the gym opens up again. And believe you me, I will be the absolute FIRST in line on that day! I also hop in my car and go for long drives with the music turned up just to be able to get out of the house. Also, Starbucks drive-thru runs because, well, it’s another reason to get out of the house. And God bless all the drive-thru folks around the country for serving us so well during this time, amiright? I’ve also done something I never thought I’d do again. A few days ago I reactivated my Skype account and joined Zoom, which is kind of the same thing I guess but it’s the latest craze so as they say, “if ya can’t beat’em, join’em.”

I can only imagine the celebrating we’re all going to do once everything opens up and we’re able to go freely wherever we want once again. And hopefully, with a new perspective and appreciation for what we once took for granted. The “little” things in life, really are the big things. My hope is that we never allow ourselves to forget that ever again. That we’ll engage with people and places that make us forget to look at our phones. That we’ll never be a society that embraces the comfort of isolation and loneliness over human connection and relationships ever again.

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