Alone in a Crowded City
Have you ever felt alone in a room full of people? Even people who are your friends or people you get along well with? That’s how I feel right now. As you can probably tell this post is going to be a little deeper than just explaining how and where I get groceries and the types of transportation I typically take. I felt that it was important to share about every aspect of moving here, not just the physical things like food and buses, but the mental components.
While living in a city with 9 million people, one might not think it would be easy to feel alone since there are people everywhere. However, in my time living in a huge city, I have learned two important lessons. One of them being that just because you are surrounded by people doesn’t mean you can’t feel lonely. In fact, there are times when I feel like it is because I’m surrounded by so many people that I feel lonely. I see all these people with their friends or family and it reminds me of all of my friends and family back home who I won’t be seeing for quite some time and whom I miss like crazy.
I started this blog post in October of 2017 and am finishing it up in April of 2019. At the time when I initially began writing this I remember feeling like I had no friends here. There were so many really kind people around me who were helping me adjust to life in China, but none of them were really my friends or people I could see myself having deep heart-to-hearts with. I remember missing my friends and family so so much. Fortunately, since I first started writing this I have made some truly incredible friends who I am incredibly grateful for.
“AS WE GROW UP WE REALIZE IT BECOMES LESS IMPORTANT TO HAVE A TON OF FRIENDS AND MORE IMPORTANT TO HAVE REAL ONES.” - ANONYMOUS
Throughout university I had a group of friends I hung out with all the time. It was a huge change coming to China and not having that. Not that having a core group of friends is bad, but for me I have realize that it is more important to have a few really good friends than to simply have a lot of friends. It took me many months into living in China to not only find these solid few friends but to truly start to realize that having a couple really good friends is enough. There is nothing wrong with me if I don’t have 15 friends I am hanging out with all the time. As simple or even ridiculous that may seem, it really took me a lot of time to actually believe that. The few people whom I would really consider my friends here are people I love to sit down and talk with for hours and hours. We learn from and support each other through all of life’s highs and lows.
The second important lesson I learned throughout my numerous bouts of loneliness is that it is okay to be alone. I will repeat that one more time… IT IS OKAY TO BE ALONE. This is a lesson I am constantly working on and needing reminders about. I am an extrovert which means I love to be around people and meeting new people is something I really enjoy doing. As a result of being a people person, loneliness is something that can affect me A LOT. There have been numerous times when I haven’t done things because I don’t want to do them alone. Even simple things like grocery shopping, which is ridiculous. But it is the honest truth. I used to and am still sometimes fearful of being all by myself.
“LEARN TO BE ALONE AND TO LIKE IT. THERE IS NOTHING MORE FREEING AND EMPOWERING THAN LEARNING TO LIKE YOUR OWN COMPANY.” - ANONYMOUS
As I said, being alone is something I am working on and with work comes progress and improvement. I am not as independent and fearless when it comes to doing things all on my own or just being by myself, but over the past two years I have seen great improvement. One of my favorite days of the week is Saturday because it is my designated “me time”. I will wake up early (I am actually really bad at sleeping in…), make myself breakfast, read a book, do some laundry, work on my bullet journal (if you don’t know what they are I highly recommend that you look them up, I love them), listen to music, and basically do all of the things that fill me with happiness, joy, and peace. It has actually gotten to the point where I would rather not do anything with other people on Saturdays or at least Saturday mornings so that I can just be alone and just have my “me time”.
I hope this blog post encourages you to enjoy and even prioritize times to just be by yourself and soak in all of that “you time”. I hope it also helps you realize that you don’t need tons of friends to make you feel important and cared for. In fact, maybe even having fewer friends will help you feel those things even more.
“UNTIL YOU GET COMFORTABLE WITH BEING ALONE, YOU'LL NEVER KNOW IF YOU'RE CHOOSING SOMEONE OUT OF LOVE OR LONELINESS.” - JENINE NICOLE