Loneliness – of its definitions on the Wiktionary, the following struck me the most:
3. The state of being unfrequented or devoid of human activity (of a place or time).
This feeling can be devastating. You feel as though you are not worthy of the time, effort, energy, etc. You may not receive any praise, “likes”, time, conversation, or any of those interactions. Unfortunately, receiving these “social indicators” will not help you feel less lonely.
What is going on? You have the wrong measure of loneliness and you are seeking approval.
You have likely heard it before: you do not need approval from loved ones or authority figures to pursue your best interests. It is normal and expected that we seek their approval because those people ought to know us the best. Unfortunately, we do not always get this approval. You may get a barrage of questioned intended to dissuade you or you may not get any response. It is not a statement of your worth, ability, or potential if this happens. The hard truth is:
It is not anyone else’s job to give you approval to follow your passions.
To put it into perspective, there are about 7.5 billion people on the earth. You could use this as an excuse to feel insignificant and sulk… or you can decide that you have a lot of opportunity to connect with amazing people who get you on a fundamental level.
If there are people who actively want to misunderstand you and/or they want to see you fail, that is their burden to carry. Let them carry it as long and as far as they can. It is better than you carrying it! It’s almost like having a pack mule that decided to follow you around with belongings you do not want anymore.
You can be damn sure they will try to make you carry it along the way instead because it is really heavy and does not provide anything useful. In the event that you do not give in to the pack mule, they will put it down and stop trying to convince you that hating yourself is a good investment of time and energy. They may even become… a fan! After all, they demonstrated a desire to invest in you, for better or worse.
For those that have haters who refuse to quit – they choose to put a truckload of their valuable time and effort into you. If you have ever been ignored by a lover, this hate can feel downright romantic in comparison.
Have you heard the saying “any attention is better than no attention”? It is true. The opposite of love is not hatred, the opposite of hatred is not love; the opposite of love and hatred is indifference. If you have ever put your heart and soul into something only to receive no response, you might understand what I mean.
Interestingly enough, we have the next statement which is a head-scratcher:
The people who adore you or love you are also not measures of your worth, nor do you need their approval.
There are times when people that adore you in the beginning will feel entitled to your approval in return as “payment” for their time and effort. This is called a “covert contract”. One of the reasons this is important is this: as haters can become your fans, your fans can become your haters. Yikes. Embrace your “lovers” or fans to a healthy degree, but just be aware that their love may not be altruistic. This can make one feel quite lonely; knowing that even fans demand certain behaviors from you to just maintain their favor! This all sounds so romantic!
“Oh lover, who expects the utmost of servitude, oh lover who warns of the depth of his scorn, dance to his songs so he dances to yours, woe be to the one that remains seated, for it will be you that the lover abhores…” -K.R. Cannady
Indifferent people are a sort of “safe” group. These are the people that are not inspired, disgusted, or to any degree affected by you or what you do. The most amazing things you create: meh. The most horrible things you have done: they shrug their shoulders. No hater-aid, no burden transfers, no covert contracts, no adoration, no praise… if your life fell apart, your fans abandoned you, your haters cackle in glee as they see your life shredded into pieces… there will always be the indifferent people whose lives you still have the opportunity to make a difference in!
In sum, loneliness is within you as much as it is outside of you. It is up to you to seek out people, events, and passions that are in your best interests. It is not anyone else’s job to give you approval to venture forth. Love and hate are indicators that other people are interested in investing their time and effort on you. Interactions with lovers and haters contain a wealth of opportunity for growth but they also require equal amounts of caution, healthy boundaries, and thoughtful communication. In the event your life falls apart, there are always the indifferent people whose lives you may be able to impact for the better.
“Loneliness” Wiktionary, 9 April, 2019, https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/loneliness. Accessed 16 April, 2019.