As I travel the world one attribute that I continue to see dominate so many peoples lives is a deep sense of loneliness. Its not always obvious. Its often hidden under false smiles and loud personalities, but if you listen attentively, you can see the pain of loneliness in so many peoples lives.
The reasons can vary drastically. She lived too far from her family to visit. He travels so often that its hard to make friends in his new city. She works so many hours that she never had time to go out with friends. He is always so busy its impossible to grow a deep connection with others. She is busy with the kids so seeing other adults becomes nearly impossible. He lost his significant other and it haunts his soul in a way that he won't admit, because "too much time has passed for him to still be in pain".
The causes and reasons may vary but the feeling of solitude in a world full of people can be so painful to deal with.
I can remember a period in my life when I was traveling a lot for judo and because of this missed weekend after weekend of friends gatherings. When the summer came around, and my travel had decreased, I found myself not invited out and feeling too distant from my friends to reach out to see what they were up to. I felt unwelcome and unmissed. Out of the circle. I realized at some level that had I been brave and just reached out more my days would have been filled with more adventure and laughter. But I couldn't overcome the anxiety of reaching out. The sadness of solitude got to me and instead I basked in the darkness. Facebook stalking whatever I was missing out on and furthering my spiral of self pity. It was easier to just think that something was wrong with me than to dig out of the loneliness.
As I have met people from multiple continents, staying with strangers all over the world I am learning that nothing was wrong with me. This sense of alone-ness is maybe the most common human sensation of all. I am not the only one that feared reaching out to distant friends. I am not that only one that hated having to awkwardly make new friends when moving to a new city. I am not the only one that felt empty after a painful breakup. I am not the only one that had travel inflict my relationships or that felt that sadness of family living distantly away.
Given this new insight as to human nature, I have a brand new appreciation for strangers. So many are hurting, just a layer beneath what you can see...and rarely do people look for it.
So here is my challenge for you... Listen more deeply to what people are really saying. Reach out to that friend that you may not have heard from in a while. Share a smile or a small conversation with a stranger who looks like they are in need of one. Compassion and support can go such a long way in making others feel less alone.
We've all felt it...so we can all do our part to aid others who are dealing with it.
Believer that everyone is special.