“Being alone never felt right. Sometimes it felt good, but it never felt right.”
— Charles Bukowski
“This morning I felt lost and alone as I was driving home after a brutal breakup with my boyfriend. I turned on the radio and the Michael Jackson song ‘You Are Not Alone’ was playing. A few seconds later, at the exact moment the chorus began, I passed a huge billboard sign with big black letters that read, ‘YOU ARE NOT ALONE!’”
That’s the opening paragraph of an email I received today from a reader named Ella. It made me smile because I love when life delivers seemingly coincidental, positive messages like that, right when we need them most.
However, the rest of Ella’s email further described her ongoing struggle with feeling “lost and alone” in life. Which got me thinking…
Why do people have to feel this way? What’s the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them craving connection, and looking for specific experiences and people to satisfy them, yet inadvertently isolating themselves in the process. Why? Was the planet put here just to nourish our loneliness?
The more I’ve experienced and explored my own feelings of uncertainty and loneliness, the more I’ve realized how necessary these feelings are. It’s good for us to spend time exploring unknowns, alone. It gives us an opportunity to discover who we really are and what life is all about.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you feel lost and alone:
1. You are not alone in being alone.
So many of us are fighting the same exact battle alongside you. We are all in this together. So no matter how embarrassed or pathetic you feel about your own situation, know that there are others out there experiencing the same emotions. When you hear yourself say, “I am all alone,” it’s just your worried mind trying to sell you a lie. There’s always someone who can relate to you. Perhaps you can’t immediately talk to them, but they are out there, and that’s all you need to know right now.
2. Sometimes when you’re lonely, you need to be alone.
Sometimes you need to be alone, not to be lonely, but to enjoy a little free time just being yourself and finding your way. In other words, the moments you feel lonely are the moments you may most need to be by yourself. This is one of life’s cruelest ironies.
We need solitude, because when we’re alone we’re detached from obligations, we don’t need to put on a show, and we can hear our own thoughts and feel what our intuition is telling us. And the truth is, throughout your life there will be times when the world gets real quiet and the only thing left is the beat of your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it, otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s telling you. (Read Quiet: The Power of Introverts.)
3. You have to be a little lost first to find what you’re looking for.
Not until you are lost in this world can you begin to find your best path. Realizing you are lost is the first step to living the life you want. The second step is leaving the life you don’t want. Making a big life change is pretty scary. But you know what’s even scarier? Regret.
I can tell you from my own life experience that I’ve found love, lost it, found it, lost it and then I found it once again. But each time what I found was more incredible than the last. So remember that everyone suffers in life at some point. Everyone feels lost sometimes. The key is using your experiences to grow. When you apply what you’re learning to your future choices and actions, you move forward not backward. You become stronger and wiser. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it in the end.
4. It’s all about accepting the reality of what is.
You cannot find peace by avoiding life. Life spins with unexpected changes; so instead of avoiding it, take every change and experience as a challenge for growth. Either it will give you what you want or it will teach you what the next step is. And remember, finding peace in life does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, no challenges, and no hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things while remaining calm in your heart.
Honestly, life is too short to spend at war with yourself. The biggest disappointments in our lives are often the result of misplaced expectations. Letting go of needless expectations is your first step to happiness. Come from a mindset of peace and acceptance, and you can deal with almost anything and grow beyond it.
5. In every situation, YOU choose your attitude.
Be determined to be positive. Understand that the greater part of your misery or unhappiness is determined not by your circumstances, but by your attitude. A happy person is not a person who’s always in a good situation, but rather a person who always has a good attitude in every situation. So smile at those who often try to begrudge or hurt you; show them what’s missing in their life and what they can’t take away from you. Doing so doesn’t mean forgetting or giving in, it means you choose happiness over hurt. (Read Buddha’s Brain.)
6. Being alone does not mean you are lonely, and being lonely does not mean you are alone.
The trouble is not always in being alone; it’s being lonely in the presence of others. One can be lonely in the midst of a crowd. Wouldn’t you agree? So keep this in mind and choose your relationships wisely. It’s always better to be alone than to be in bad company. And when you do decide to come back for someone, do so because you’re truly better off with this person. Don’t do it just for the sake not being alone.
7. Everyone you care about does NOT need to support your decisions.
Friends and family won’t always support your goals, but you must pursue them anyway. Follow your intuition. Following your intuition means doing what feels right, even if it doesn’t look or sound right to others. Only time will tell, but our human instincts are rarely wrong. Even if things don’t turn out as you anticipated, at least you won’t have to spend the rest of your life wondering what could have been. So don’t worry about what everyone else thinks; just keep living and speaking your truth.
Ultimately, you know you’re on the right track in life when you become uninterested in looking back, and eager to take the next step, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
8. You are not who you used to be, and that’s OK.
You’ve been hurt; you’ve gone through numerous ups and downs that have made you who you are today. Over the years, so many things have happened – things that have changed your perspective, taught you lessons, and forced your spirit to grow. As time passes, nobody stays the same, but some people will still tell you that you have changed. Respond to them by saying, “Of course I’ve changed. That’s what life is all about. I’m still the same human being, just a little stronger now than I ever was before.”
9. The best you can do changes from day to day.
Always do your best. And realize that “your best” is going to change repeatedly. For instance, it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.
Under any circumstance, simply do your best in the present moment and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret. And remember that no matter what’s happening, you can efficiently fight the battles of just today. It’s only when you add the battles of those two abysmal eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that life gets overwhelmingly complicated. It’s necessary, therefore, to let yourself live just one day at a time – just today – just right here, right now. And do the best you can in it. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self_love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
10. It all matters in the end – every step, every regret, every smile, and every struggle.
The seemingly useless happenings add up to something. The minimum wage job you had in high school. The evenings you spent socializing with colleagues you never see anymore. The hours you spent writing thoughts on a personal blog that no one reads. Contemplations about elaborate future plans that never came to be. All those lonely nights spent reading novels and news columns and comics strips and fashion magazines and questioning your own principles on life and sex and religion and whether or not you’re good enough just the way you are. All of this has strengthened you. All of this has led you to every success you’ve ever had. All of this has made you who you are today.
The floor is yours…
What helps you stay positive when you feel lost and alone? What’s something encouraging you try to keep in mind when you’re up against lots of uncertainty? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Photo by: Little Zoker
I just wanted to say thank you. I really needed this. <3
Light skinned says
I am 27 and I struggle everyday almost with accepting that I am alone and always have been I was taken away from my biological family at the age of 5 bounced around in the system for awhile and later adopted at the age of ten to a wonderful lady only later to discover her family where monsters who sometimes raped and mistreated me and my other two siblings that she had tooken in as her own when I was 16 she died from cancer which left us to fend for ourselves me and my sisters never really got a long I guess so angry and sad at not ever having normal lives as I got older I never tried to let what happened on my past define me I’ve always tried my best somewhat I would say I remember being in high school after her passing and my teachers offering to put me in Honor classes that I rejected it was to much at the time also remember receiving scholarships but not having a guardian to help me rsvp for all the invites i received still I tried to keep it together I had my first child at the age of 20 her father was very abusive and mean to me I’ve struggled with being homeless at a point in my life with my now 6year old daughter I’ve always been there for everyone around me and taken care of those I cared about even strangers I’ve never hesitated to help anyone around me no matter the case I am now 27 and trying to figure out why am I so alone no family, no friends, no one to even just call up and talk to I have a lot of faith in god but get discouraged at times my daughter asks me all the time mom are we allowed to have company or why didn’t you mom and dad love you how you love me I’ve done things in my past I am not proud of and the things I’ve witnessed and felt left me to become distant from ppl and untrusting I don’t know if it’s me or do I just belong unloved and left alone I am at a constant battle of excepting being alone but I’m struggling with it all I have is my inner voice to talk to I also cry a lot from time to time I wish god would hear my heart and give me a sign that I’m the right path I’m currently in school for pharmacy technician but even trying to keep myself busy makes me feel even more alone I don’t wanna die alone and unloved and everyone I come in counter with gives me so many compliments not knowing Im really torn on the inside
Anonymous 12 year old says
I hear you. I am only twelve, but I have also been through trials and adversity that I know would be hard to handle for anyone. What those trials might be are not important, but I get some of the same feelings the lot of you get. I feel that my friends are trying to get away from me, that people don’t understand me, (Yes, I’m only twelve, but I think more like an adult than I do as a child.) Or that people just don’t care. Sometimes I would sit alone at school or in public places to see if someone else would notice. Nobody ever did. Sometimes I feel that I could disappear or die in the most gruesome way possible and nobody would even notice I was gone. It hurts more than anybody would guess. I suppose the majority of people out there would say that there are many worse fates than loneliness, but I would rather die than live with these feelings for the rest of my life as they tear my heart to tiny scraps. I feel that anybody who would come looking for a website like this would understand. Thank you all for the encouraging words.
I stumbled across this post today when I looked up being lonely on Google. I noticed the last comments on here are back from a few years ago, so I don’t know if anyone will even see this. I do hope each and everyone of you are at a better place now.
I am going through the worst and loneliest year of my life. My husband of 8 years left me and I miss him so much. He was my world; my everything and most of all my best friend. We had so much love but also so many problems. We are on good terms, and we still want to be friends but he has moved onto another relationship. Shortly after we split up I immediately jumped head first into a new relationship. I moved in with the person right away and was blinded by thinking this would solve all my hurt. Now 5 months later everything is so much worse. Everything has finally set it and I can’t ignore my emotions anymore. I told my (now ex boyfriend) that I moved way too fast and I am sorry, but I just don’t feel right about it and I never processed my emotions. Needless to say he has not been understanding and handling it very well. We are on a lease together for a few more months and I just feel so isolated and alone and each day is so hard. I sit in this dark and cold apartment just a wreck about my life and I feel like I NEED to get out, get away but I do not have the funds, friends or family that can help me right now. I am almost 34 and I am so scared life won’t get better. Even though I want it to so badly. I try so hard to be positive and come up with a plan and keep my head up but those positive moments fade so fast.
Is anyone on here still out there…?
I just came upon this forum after typing in “feeling lonely and being alone at 59….”
After reading these raw and vulnerable personal stories I’m humbled, blessed, encouraged, full of heartfelt compassion and love for people I have never met. I too have a history of trauma and tragedy and love and joy mixed in. What I do feel is a sense of beautiful community in a strong and hopeful encouraging way and not in a commiserating depressed manner.
It’s so true that we do not know the struggles of others alongside us and the inner and outer wars they are fighting -just like we are. An inspiring theme and strong presence I’ve read is the thread of FAITH and the strength and love of GOD. I too am a deep believer in Christ and I’m imperfect on many levels in my faith and that’s what encourages me to dig even deeper in myself when reading how others I’ve never met use their faith and love of God to give them strength and courage to not just survive -also to thrive and share with others.
I’m not sure who sees these comments or if this even gets posted as this is an older forum and that’s ok. The act of opening up and writing these feelings into words has been a beautiful beginning in healing and loving myself as God dearly loves me and others out there walk our walks with heavy hearts that need our love and support mutually.
Much love and blessings to all of us in this beautiful journey called life.
I’ve been lost for awhile now I’ve been on my own since the age of 15 I went to school during the day and worked in the evenings and rented a small trailer. I married at age 27 and divorced at 49. I worked in the nursing field for 46 years until I began leaking spinal fluid. I spent two horrible years trying to get my disability. Family refused to offer any help. I had never asked for anything from them since I was 15. I slept in my car in January for two weeks until a friend offered me a room. I went from job to job trying to make ends meet. I always had good insurance working at the hospital and when I had to go on public aide drs refused to except it. I felt like a nobody here I took care of others my entire life yet when I needed it the most there was no one. I finally got approved for disability and am scraping by but I feel so alone no family no calls. But I wouldn’t trade what I did helping others or the nightmare I’ve been through it has made me a stronger person. Just some anxiety of what the future holds.
I’m 42. Fairly good looking. Fit. Honest. Hard working. Don’t drink. Don’t do drugs. Might start smoking again. I’m understanding and forgiving. Easy going. Can solve almost any problem I run into.
My wife of ten years left me recently, she took my truck and sold the farm out from under me and left me with over 20 of her animals to deal with and no way to do it, I did it anyway. She had never been faithful through the marriage, but i kept forgiving her. Before she left to move in with some dude she knew 30 years ago she spread it around that I was screwing around, I never did btw, thereby also ruining my reputation. Needless to say I was devastated emotionally and financially. But I found a girl, her goal was to be open and honest about everything, and she was for awhile. I fell in love. She did too. We were both on the rebound from abusive relationships. She was honest that she didn’t want a serious relationship, I was ok with that. Then she had to go a few states away for a job, staying with a “friend” and giving me her word that she wouldn’t have sex with anyone else (though I didn’t ask). One week later (the whole of the week telling me I’m the only one she wants and won’t even have anything physical with anyone else) she “asks” for permission to break her word, I couldn’t give it, so she tells me she’s breaking it anyway. Now every day I’m here taking care of her animals and land and any business deals she has down here while also working my full time job. She’s up there, calling or texting to berate and belittle me pretty much every day, all while saying she still loves me but I disgust her. Yeah, I haven’t dealt well with it, but I’m still madly in love with the her that left, idk who the her that’s coming back is gonna be. This, or something very similar to this, has been how every woman in my life has done me. My mom was first of course, but her abuse was also physical to the extreme.
I guess what I want to say is, why? Why do I have to be the whipping boy (sometimes literally) for every woman I’ve ever loved? Why can’t anyone anywhere just actually love me back? I give of myself without conditions, I give everything I am, but it’s never enough. I’m never enough. I’m so tired of feeling alone, but that’s all I’ve ever really known. I don’t know if I can do this again. I don’t know if I can do anything else. I’m lost in a way that I don’t know how to get back from. I have no friends left because I’ve worked too hard to maintain any friendships, I have no one left. And I’m just so so very sad. I miss my dad. He was the only person who I can say loved me unconditionally, but he’s been gone for 7 years. I really wanna go see him. Idk if that’s how it works, but it’s gotta be better than this.
im a teenager. i constantly have thoughts of wanting my life to be over. i have already been diagnosed with an eating disorder. my school has sent me to get help from therapy, and it is working. but my parents are another story. they refuse to send me to get help, and are constantly in denial about my mental health. they always make everything about me, about them. when i talk to my school about things that i feel are wrong in my life, they call home and explain everything to them. my parents always get mad at me for not being their definition of normal. now my mom is threatening to leave, and my whole family has taken her side. my own parents told me they wanted to give me up for adoption. i feel so alone. nobody is listening. i dont know what to do.
Thanks for writing and posting this article. I’ve been through hell in my marriage for the past three years and sometimes I feel so hopeless and alone in all of this. I’m starting to see my way clear of it, but it’s so scary at times. I know I’m not alone in my pain but sometimes things seem so bleak. I’m getting better about 1) taking action where I can 2) stepping away when I can’t do anything 3) knowing the difference and 4) asking for help.
Currently 21 and fresh out of my highschool relationship, never took time for self reflection or introspection and this post popped up with my very niche google search. I needed what was typed, thank you for a new perspective and a lighter weight on my shoulders. goodnight