MY COUSIN AND I exchange flurries of texts, often after a night of high-alert parenting or because one of us has committed some random act of self-sabotage like spontaneously putting our house up for sale or agreeing to run a half-marathon. When our thumbs tire of texting, we pick up the phone.
Mostly, we reassure one another that we aren’t the worst mothers in the world. At least, we aren’t as bad as our moms were, you know, with their second-hand smoke and lawn Jarts. Our moms let us dance behind mosquito abatement trucks until the dewy fog of DEET collected like sequins on our eyelashes, hair, and skin. We played dress-up with dry cleaning bags. We talk to remind each other we’re doing just fine.
Last August, I was a bit of a mess.
August discombobulates me. For a month that brands itself as ‘summer’, it comes with a tremendous amount of paperwork. August is a reverse mullet: party in the front, business in the back. It’s all blue-skies-and-beaches until you’re panic buying extra-long sheet sets.
I was whining to my cousin. I sighed, ‘I’m tired. I wake up and I’m exhausted.’ She paused before replying, ‘It kinda sounds like you’re lonely. Are you lonely?’
It was like someone pricked the thin, strained membrane that contained my swollen, wobbly emotions. I burst, instant ugly crying. Yes! That white noise of heartache was loneliness! But how? I was crammed COVID-style in a house with people I loved. I have dear friends who forward snarky memes.
I dove into loneliness research. I now fancy myself to be something of a Loneliness Ambassador. (Imagine how much fun I am at a dinner party.)
Remember how we all grew up hating Brussels sprouts and then someone stepped up and ordered everyone in the whole world to start roasting Brussels sprouts instead of boiling them and now we’re all absolutely gaga over Brussels sprouts, happily stampeding to any restaurant that artfully grates or *gasp* mixes them in a bacon/sweet potato medley? I want to do that for Loneliness, transform Loneliness’s unpalatable reputation. I want to be Loneliness’s PR girl.
Loneliness is simply a signal that we’re longing for emotional closeness—a close confidant or more meaningful friendships. Perhaps our souls crave a night out singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” at the top of our lungs with a few hundred strangers. Humans need trusted companionship, authentic friendships, and a community with shared interests to thrive, to feel whole. Loneliness isn’t a sign that we are unlovable.
A steady diet of loneliness can lead to all shades of suffering and sadness, but, loneliness is not a life sentence. You hold the cure. I hold the cure. The cure for loneliness is human connection. Bam! That’s it. Connect with people. Amazingly, when we connect, when we fill someone else’s loneliness bucket, we often fill our own. Everyone wins.
We’ve been in varying degrees of isolation. It can feel awkward or downright terrifying to reconnect with people, but loneliness is a chicken/egg situation: you may not feel ready to connect, but by connecting, you will feel stronger and, well, more connected.
Here’s the best part: connection is contagious. Connection grows and spreads rapidly through eye contact, smiles, curiosity, conversations, vulnerability, kindness, passion, and shared action. The more we connect, the more grounded we feel. The more grounded we feel, the more we connect.
We possess the greatest power on earth: to lift each other. Connection is free. It’s one smile away. To feel and spread connection we need only one thing: to make a move.
For more information or to be in touch, check out T-Ann’s websites: t-annpierce.com and theconfidencetriangle.com. She’s on Insta @tannpiercecoaching and @the.confidence.triangle. Or just stop by. She’s been wanting to meet you.