How to deal with social isolation

I live in Amsterdam, Netherlands a very large and vibrant city. Some people say that Amsterdam is the city that never sleeps. Wherever you lay your eyes you can see so many happy and smiling people everywhere all the time. It is easy to meet people here. Dutch people are communicative and they enjoy small talks, but there are a lot of expats from all over the world seeking for a companion and happy to make new friends here. So, my question is how come there are still so many lonely people in a such a friendly environment?

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Social scientists say that technology and housing trends are increasing the risk of loneliness. More people are living alone nowadays than ever before. Scientists said that loneliness can easily lead people to depression. Is it social media that draws people away from the real and substantial relationships, or it has to do with our own personality that may intimidate others, or other people behaviors that intimidating us?

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Therefore I decided to share with you the story of Laura and how I met her. I use the tram almost every day. Sometimes I like to look around, outside of the window or I watch people and their behavior, sometimes I just read my book. So, a few months ago I was sitting in the tram reading my book. Suddenly the driver makes an announcement about  some construction work on rails, he said that tram is going to stop at the Lelylaan station and all the passengers that want to go further can use the shuttle buses.

Photo by me Amsterdam

A beautiful young girl that was sitting next to me asked me in English with a very pronounced Italian accent what the driver was talking about. I told her that I am not so good with Dutch neither but I understood this announcement, so I explained to her. She thanked me and asked me from where I am. So we started a small talk. I found her very interesting and smart, she also had a great sense of humor that I admire at people. She came in Amsterdam from Italy 6 months ago for her post-graduate studies, she lives alone, she doesn’t have a lot of friends as she said. I told her in short notice my story and how I came to live here, and what I do for a living, I expressed my love for Italy and Italian people, she expressed her love for Greece and Greek people, we shared some jokes, we laughed, etc. When we reached the last tram stop I suddenly noticed tears in her eyes. I asked her if everything is OK. She said she would like to thank me, because for 6 months that she lives in Amsterdam this is the first time that she actually talked and had a normal conversation with somebody. She said that she is communicative person and that she has a lot of friends back in Italy. She said that she is outgoing and she loves to hangout. But for six months she cannot make any kind of contact with anyone, even she tried with some Italian girls that she met and some colleagues from the university. They just shut her down, ignore and avoid her, she said. I couldn’t believe what I heard. How come? Why? Is that has to do with her, or with others? She seems very pleasant and extrovert person. She is also a very beautiful girl. But when I think better I had experienced a similar situation myself. OK, I am not alone, I have my boyfriend and a lot of acquaintances, but I did not make friends with an actual meaning of a close friendship yet, and I am here almost for 4 years.

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Is it possible that when we go away from our comfort zone, our home, our parents, our relatives and close friends, we just start to losing our self-confidence and we suddenly have a problem to trust people because we feel insecure?

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So, this story of Laura make me think about a lot of things. How many people in cities even talk to each other any more? I don’t believe that it has to do only with a large and vibrant cities, but it has to do with today’s society in general. You can be lonely anywhere, in the city, in the village, at the work place, anywhere.

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So I told to Laura my opinion that day. Maybe the problems starts within ourselves. Maybe it has to do with our strong personality, that may offend and intimidate others without intention. People, in general, even if they don’t know much about us, most of the times they don’t even know our names, still keep judging us all the time. Also as the great ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: ,,Dogs bark at what they don’t understand.,, 

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You don’t have to lower your criteria so that others can feel more comfortable around you. There are so many things people cannot handle regarding others. People often judge others who are better than them even though you may be one of the kindest and nicest people they have ever meet.

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Some people will approach you and ask you questions, not because they care about you, but just because they are curious.

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Maybe you like the small talks, but if you see that other person you are talking with start to asking you some very personal questions, you just block, and this is totally normal. I don’t like to talk about my personal life with a complete stranger, I just don’t feel comfortable and I know I pushed a lot of people away because of this, but this is who I am.

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When you are an open-minded person, you just don’t have tolerance for judgmental people.

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If you surpass your peers with your revolutionary way of thinking and your bright ideas and perceptions it is totally normal they will start to avoid you because they cannot reach your level.

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If you cannot stand those who complain all the time and you rather focus your time and energy on what you are doing than listen to their misery that is going to bring you down, then it is your choice to be alone and you should be totally fine with that.

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If you are direct to the point and you value being honest, if lying to people just to make them love you is not an option for you, then just keep going and one day you will meet people with the same values as yours. You don’t have to lower your values for anybody. Just be who you are and be patient. You will find people who are like you, people who are not going to bring you down, but they are going to lift you up.

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Remember life isn’t finding yourself, is about creating yourself. It is about loving yourself. If you don’t love and respect yourself, how can you expect from others to love you and to respect you?

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I don’t think you should be bothered with such a behaviors. You are who you are. You cannot be defined from other peoples’ perception about you. So, my opinion is that it is better to be alone than in a bad company. Do not rush. If something is meant to happen, it will happen at the right time, with the right person and with the best possible reason.

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Learn to enjoy being alone and learn to like it. There is nothing more empowering than learning to like your own company. Oscar Wilde said: ”I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not to be defined by another person.”

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A famous blogger and writer Mandy Hale said: ‘‘Until you get comfortable with being alone, you’ll never know if you’re choosing someone out of love or loneliness.”  So if you want to be happy learn how to be alone without feeling lonely.

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That day Laura went home with a huge smile on her face, me also.

So, dear Laura and all of you who feels the same, please try to realize that there a lot of people out there who enjoy to pump out your good energy and to underestimate you because this makes them feel better about themselves. If someone really wants you in his life, he will find the time and place for you. Do not strive for those who constantly underestimate your value. Do not forget that your real friends are with you when you feel the worst, and not when you are at your best. You should not feel isolated, but blessed. As the great ancient Greek philosopher Herodotus said: ,,How much better a thing it is to be envied than to be pitied.,,

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As for the loneliness I also felt lonely so many times even I was surrounded with so many people. It’s a different kind of loneliness than being physically isolated. It’s more painful and confusing to feel lonely when you’re actually not alone. And it doesn’t make sense. There are millions of people around, how is it possible that  nobody even look at you, you start to feel invisible. I don’t think that it has to do only with urban isolation, or technology and social media trends. I believe that we should look for answers within ourselves and our own perceptions about the life and relationships in generally.

Photo by me Amsterdam

My advice is just to go out and enjoy the small things. Please do not feel worthless because you don’t have friends around all the time. Remember that you are here for the reason. Try to find things that inspire you to reach your full potentials as a person. Remember that you are unique and absolutely beautiful and there is nobody else out there like you. Embrace yourself, embrace the world that surrounds you. There are so many people who love you for who you are. Be grateful for this. Don’t let any loneliness affect your personality and who you are.

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