An article from Forbes came across my Facebook timeline about young people being lonely. Intrigued – I opened it to read that many millennials don’t identify as having friends. Or well, close friends at least. There’s the idea that loneliness is contagious and its something that can, and should, be stopped.
So I started to evaluate my own life. I often joke that I only have 5 friends with my mom and fiancé being two of the five. I spend a majority of my day not with others outside of the forced group interaction of meetings or classes, and I rarely have evening or weekend plans that you could describe as being a social event. It would be easy to say I live a lonely life.
There was a line from the article that stood out to me,
“Lonely people are less able to pick up on positive social stimuli, like others’ attention and commitment signals, so they withdraw prematurely – in many cases before they’re actually socially isolated.”
You see, the idea is we just don’t realize people find us interesting so we pull away and do this whole loneliness thing to ourselves. It was this line here that struck such a chord with me because it speaks to the deeper social issue.
We think we’re boring.
We stop telling jokes because the punch line isn’t that funny anyway. We hide our hobbies because they probably make us seem nerdy. We don’t share our experiences because we think they just aren’t cool enough to keep anyones attention.
Living in a world of sharing everything – we’ve started to devalue the stories we do have to tell.
It’s a cycle that’s easy to catch ourselves in. Social media shows us all of the highlights of life from our friends, family, and celebrities. We can compare page views and Instagram likes, friend and follower counts until we’re blue in the face. In the echo chamber of the modern world, it’s easy to lose our own voice.
In my typical fashion I should be citing the scriptures that tell us how important we truly are, and how meaningful and interesting we are to God. In this case though, I don’t think those verses quite fit. Not that it isn’t important to remember how valuable we are to Him, but those words don’t help in the same way when it comes to being valued by others.
I’m also not going to tell you that you shouldn’t find worth in other people. Yes, it’s true you should base your self-worth in the value God gives you, but God made us social creatures, it is by His design that we naturally look to those around us for approval and acceptance.
So instead I will leave you with this; the same passion and love you have for other people someone also has for you. The joy you receive from hearing your friends’ stories they also get from hearing yours. Someone, somewhere, thinks your hobbies are cool too. (Your jokes though – if nobody laughs they probably aren’t funny.)
Love and be loved, share the life you leave without fear or insecurity, and own who you are. You aren’t alone in the world, there isn’t anything wrong with only having one or two close friends, and you’re probably cooler than you think.
Now, go conquer the world with your awesomeness.