Nobody, but nobody, Can make it out here alone

A week or so ago, I was reading a post written on The Atlantic, entitled “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” by Stephen Marche. I began reading this article as part of a work assignment and became intrigued with it for a number of reasons. The part of the piece that intrigued me the most was the part in which Marche quotes NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg, “Reams of published research show that it’s the quality, not the quantity of social interaction, that best predicts loneliness.” Marche goes on to explain that the typical things we believe that help to alleviate loneliness only do so if certain conditions are met. For example, for those who are married are only less lonely, if their partner is a trusted confidant. For those who have a strong faith or religious belief, loneliness is reduced if that person has an individual relationship with God, as opposed to believing in God as some far off entity. Reading these words only helped to solidify my personal beliefs on developing, deep, meaningful connections and relationships with others.

The words in this article made me think about how loneliness works in my own life and the times I feel less alone. As someone who is an introvert, by nature, I can spend quite a bit of time alone without being lonely. However, I am human and recognize I, just as anyone else have a deep need for closeness with others, be they family, friends, significant others, etc. As I have gotten older, I recognize the need not for superficial relationships and connection with others, but for real connections. The type of meaningful relationship where you may not talk to someone in a while, but you can pick up the phone or hang out with that person and spend hours talking about what’s going on in your life, and vent or even cry if you need to.

And, what does this have to do with self-care? Everything.

We all need people to reach out to. When the world is resting on our shoulders a little too heavily; when the words don’t seem to flow easily enough, and all we have is silence; or when it’s 3am and you’re in trouble or can’t sleep due to worry and stress, it’s essential to have people who you know will pick up the phone or at least won’t mind getting a voicemail, and will call you back at their earliest convenience. Unfortunately, too many of us either do not have these types of supports in our lives, or we are reluctant to open up and develop these types of relationships. But, these connections are necessary for our basic survival, let alone the ability to thrive in every aspect of our lives. Self-care is letting ourselves be vulnerable with others, who have proven they care. It is the ability to realize that, no matter how much we enjoy spending time alone, there are times when having close bonds and relationships with others, helps make life a little easier.

This week I was reminded of a poem by one of my favorite poets, Maya Angelou, that sums up what I am trying to say:

Alone

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can’t use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They’ve got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Maya Angelou

Did you have a moment in your life when you realized the difference between being alone and being lonely? How do you cope with loneliness?

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