Do you want to go to the cinema? What are you doing at the weekend? But in fact it just got worse.
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I used to make myself go on bike rides and stuff. Now I just try to put up with it. As old age hovers on the horizon, the loneliness strengthens. If something bad happened to me, who would know? It is a valid concern. In the autumn last year, the body of year-old Marie Conlon was found in her flat at Larkspur Rise in Belfast. She had been dead for nearly three years. I popped into my local funeral directors to learn how often they were presented with bodies which had lain alone in flats until they began to decompose.
The lady in charge that day was wary of my questions, and made me promise not to give her name. But yes, she said, this happens quite regularly — bodies lie undiscovered until neighbours complain of a smell. More than half of men and women over 75 in Britain live alone.
Most admit that they have never spoken to friends or family about how they feel.
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Christine was 15 years younger than Barry, so they always quietly assumed he would go first. Then she developed a brain tumour. My future became a wasteland full of empty days. We live in a society that admires independence but derides isolation. Yet for many old people the two go hand in hand. Back in the summer of , following the death of his wife, Joy, C. Lewis wrote of the agony of becoming a free agent. To be happy is to be tied. I got very near to losing the will to live: despair is always knocking on the door for the lonely. Other elderly people I spoke to described a similar experience in different ways.
You can hardly get out of bed.
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Loneliness can be a refuge, albeit a miserable one. It can be an avoidance of a lot of things that could feel exciting, but troubling. There can be safety in loneliness. That seems to me in and of itself a promising element. Her home is in a remote Scottish valley, the nearest shop ten miles away. She now thinks of urban life, and being surrounded by people, with horror.
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But I kept wondering, after speaking to her, whether there were less radical ways in which people who are alone can learn to convert the desolation of loneliness into the richness of solitude. I met Laurence Freeman, a Benedictine monk and an internationally renowned teacher of meditation, in a quiet square in Islington, and was quickly struck both by his profound understanding of human nature and the distinction he made between solitude and loneliness.
This can often involve a combination of paranoia and a very high level of judgmentalism about others. But I think that coming out of loneliness is hard work. Maggie Fergusson is literary editor of the Tablet and a freelance writer.
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A perfect first step for those of us who are more on the shy side, there are thousands of online groups and communities for remote workers, freelancers , and entrepreneurs , and even smaller and more specific groups related to your niche or location. While Slack channels are public, you need the workspace URL to find them. Thankfully, Ometrics put together a list of the best slack communities for entreprenuers. You can also search for communities via Slofile , a public Slack community database.
Facebook groups are another great way to mingle with other entrepreneurs and share tips and opportunities. And finally, make it a point to explore Reddit. After joining, the worst thing you can do is not participate. Remember that these groups exist for the purpose of connecting and helping each other, so the people who are in them are down to do just that.
It can give you that office-community vibe without the feeling of your boss lurking over your shoulder. Plus many of them come with cool amenities like happy hours, meeting spaces and unlimited amounts of coffee. While a quick Google search for coworking spaces in your area often does the trick, there are some online directories out there you can use.
The downside to coworking spaces is that they are expensive. Which is why many digital nomads have taken it upon themselves to create their own co-working spaces.
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All you have to do is commit to going to the same coffee shop, library, or cafe the same day—or every day if you can—during the work week for a few months. A couple simple, but consistent efforts to talk to someone can break the ice and open the door for a regular coworking peer. Hobbies and activities can be great places to make additional connections.
Make a point to go to the same exercise class every week or take up a hobby that forces you to be social. Create a list of things that interest you and search for ways to experience those interests with other people. As most entrepreneurs can attest, working for yourself often means some long, painful hours. Play around with some office hours until you find a set that works for you. And hey, no judgment if you end up going back 9-to-5; people do it for a reason. Then bring back some habits that signal the end of work and the beginning of play. Meet some friends or fellow remote workers for drinks after work or go out for an hour at lunch.
Look for opportunities that not only force you to be social, but might also contribute in some way to your career. If it starts taking up too much of your time, you can always quit. SEO content strategist and owner of The Blogsmith , Maddy Osman, understood the working-from-home loneliness all too well, and decided to do something about it. I prefer to see them as an opportunity to build my network. Helping people also gives me a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, which puts me in a positive mindset to finish my work for the day.
You just have to get a little creative. My favorite volunteering gig was eating lunch with an elementary school student for a half hour, once a week.
1. A grudge
After doing it long enough, I got to know the teachers there, the other volunteers, and I still talk to that student on a pretty regular basis. While you may think the mentor title only belongs to CEOs or people who have broken past six figures, everyone has something to teach. Local schools and colleges love having real people in the business world who can come and talk to students about what it really takes to be successful.