Overcoming Lonerliness

August 1st, 2017. Arrived in Koh Lanta, Thailand Two Days Ago.

Real talk. I haven’t HAD to socialize for a very long time.

In college, I tried so hard to mingle with the cool crowd and was so often rejected (not verbally, but by way of gentle exclusion, thank god) as a potential member that I eventually just stopped expecting to ever succeed. Willingly, I resigned myself to being an underdog and learned to embrace the special and unexpected friends that flowed freely into my life, uncontrived (who, for the record, are way cooler and more multi-dimensional than any of those hipster kids I tried so hard to be like anyway).

I don’t want to paint myself as the timid, hermitic type who pees her pants and stutters when having to face a social challenge, because it’s in no way that severe (and anyone who is reading this, probably knows this and knows me). I’m bubbly, I make jokes, I can make small talk with strangers when I’m in the mood, and I can even hold an audience at a party every once and a while. But usually, as an example, the thought of walking up to an established groups of friends at a bar (even super kind/humble-looking people) and just saying hello makes my stomach turn a little bit. I can do it. But I don’t like it.

Over the past few years, my hectic worklife, social anxiety/awkwardness, and my complacent satisfaction with and love for the close friends and family that I can count on my fingers and toes, has prevented me from even trying to go out and make new friends. I embraced what I had, learned to love being alone for stints, and now I am completely out of practice (if I ever even was, which is highly questionable). The handful of new friends I have made during this time came so unexpectedly and without any conjuring at all that I am relieved to know that friends don’t require effort…when it’s right, it just happens. And it does happen.

I’ve always had a deeply introverted/lonerish side to me, and have loved being able to go about things alone (movies, shopping, dinner, travel, etc) but whenever I’ve wanted to be in someone else’s company, I could be.

Kristen has officially gone back to the U.S. and now I am alone in the realest sense of the word. I am on the opposite side of the globe in unfamiliar territory where I. Simply. Don’t. Know. Anyone. On top of that, the day she left, I went to the bus station, not quite knowing where I was going or how I would get there, and ended up moving from a very bustling beach town called Ao Nang, to a quaint little island in Thailand (hey that rhymes!) called Ko Lanta, which is currently experiencing their low season. Nay…I wouldn’t called it a low season. I’d call it their no season. Half of the town is shut down and I’ve only witnessed about 20 other foreigners in the last 48 hours.

Sure, I VERY MUCH enjoy the relaxation and freedom of answering to no one but myself and hanging out in hammocks all day without being on someone else’s schedule, but I now realize that traveling alone is different than being alone at home. You can’t just say, “Okay that peaceful book-reading time on the beach was nice, but now I’m ready to go hike that island with my buddy, bottle of wine in tow, and laugh about the day’s misadventures.”

My lonerish tendencies are almost to my detriment, because I can be alone for long periods of time and still have fun and be okay…but it doesn’t mean that I can avoid feeling lonely altogether. I could have more fun and be more okay with others.

WHAT IS IT about new and exciting experiences/places/cultures/foods that make you want to share them with someone else rather than go about it alone? I’m not just talking about sharing it with your best friend or a significant other (lord knows I’m still eons away from tackling that uncharted territory), but rather, even just a simple acquaintance that you may never see again after you part ways on different ferries tomorrow.

There’s something about aloneness and loneliness that even stumps the most independent of us. I don’t know exactly my purpose in ranting about this subject, except to say that maybe I’m a bit terrified by this newly recognized need to develop my socialization skills and overcome my social anxieties in order to make short term friends that will satisfy my human need to fraternize.

All the while, I’m kind of excited. If I didn’t like challenges, I wouldn’t have up and quit life and flown to the other side of the globe.

I think I need to keep reminding myself that yes, traveling alone means that you know don’t know anybody…BUT it also means that no one knows you. Which means that you can walk up to the group of people at a bar without fear. There’a 95% chance that they’ll welcome you in and ask you all about your journey and tell you about theirs, but if in the 5% chance they don’t, you can deflect to the bathroom, sneak out through the window, and you’ll never see them again. (Just kidding! But seriously…)

I do believe that on this journey I will find new soul sisters and kindred spirits to share my journey with, and they will come (and go) without lifting a finger, but those are the ones you can’t go searching for. You just have wait, I guess.

In the meantime, I’ll just have to overcome my “lonerliness” by stepping outside my comfort zone a bit.

21 replies
  1. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Just remember you are never completely alone… also, we are all just a blog post away waiting to hear about your adventures.

  2. Sheila Hadley Schall
    Sheila Hadley Schall says:

    Michelle says it very well.. Julia, you are NOT ALONE.. You have all of us back home pulling for you and wishing you well on this exciting adventure you have embarked on.. Chin up girl, move forward.. We are here for your continued support.. Be the wanderologist you’ve set out to be and keep on keeping on.. We all love you and pray for wonderful journey… <3

  3. Teri L Pizza
    Teri L Pizza says:

    Thanks for the honest sharing of your adventure … the on your own moments now that you are on your own! (I was wondering about the “we” blogs.) That’s what I want to hear about– those moments and then, those people that 1. might be worth knowing about or 2. we should be happy we never got to know them! It’s the ups and downs that make life sooooo interesting. You’ve chosen diversity by being alone to look at the other and the under side of the world. I’m so thrilled for you. I know I could have lived alone in a house but I don’t think I could have lived alone in another culture. I could be alone in a town that contained diversions that I’m familiar with…but not on a strange beach. But you’ve already done it! (Maybe the journey is really about what we can and cannot do? I can’t wait to hear more about your exciting adventure learning about you and others. Yeah for Julia doing what we can’t do; being what we can’t be; stretching her life in so many new ways. Do what you do best–smile and move forward.

    • Jules
      Jules says:

      I really do try and look at life that way…what can I do to MAKE myself uncomfortable? How can I MAKE myself grow? I just know that I’m not as happy as I could be when content and complacent…

  4. Krissy
    Krissy says:

    I’ve felt like this too. About friends- and trying to find them make them. I’m pretty much over it- I guess. I’d love just one true kindred spirit. I’ve had best friends but life changed and we changed and now I can’t expect to relate to them at all.

    • Jules
      Jules says:

      It’s a struggle!! I’ve lost a ton of friends over time but have been lucky enough to keep a few gems. Don’t give up! I imagine it’s harder when you’re a momma and you really don’t have time or energy to invest in making friends…but that’s that thing…friends don’t come when you TRY. They come when you don’t.

  5. Birdie Hammond
    Birdie Hammond says:

    Julia when I met you I fell in love with your personality up at AEF. I sure hate the loneliness that you are feeling. I pray for your safe travels everyday and want you to know that you can call me anytime you want in South Carolina at 864 992-8171. I envy your opportunity to travel the world and will be keeping up with you. Love Birdie

  6. Patricia Jones
    Patricia Jones says:

    Thank you Julia for your honesty and vulnerability in revealing your challenges of feeling lonely. Many of us have experienced that feeling of isolation in a crowded room. Your bravery in taking on this journey is outstanding and all of us are excited everytime we see a blog of Facebook post. Keep ’em coming, share share share! We are all living vicariously through you and your adventure, hence, you are NOT alone – we’re are all right there with you. Hugs.

  7. Candis Sanders
    Candis Sanders says:

    You are so precious and I was blessed to have met you, & have spent time with you in the past. I would have never known that you felt the ways in which you articulated your feelings. So true, deep, and raw. You are never alone~Jesus is always with you. And then because of technology we All across the world are taking this journey with you. Thank you sweet brace young women for stepping out to experience life in such a way that most of us would be to fearful to ever try.

  8. Mikaela
    Mikaela says:

    Oh Julia!!! You are Sooo brave!!! I hate hearing that you are lonely, but I know that you likely anticipated this feeling. I’m sure that it won’t be the last time… however, I can confidently say that I KNOW you will find fellow adventurers along the way to share moments, hours, days, maybe weeks of memories with. And yes, they may come and go, but you take the companionship when you can get it.
    This makes me think of childhood. Sometimes we should be more of a kid at heart. For example, when you take a kid to a playground full of kids they do not know. Somehow they manage to find a buddy to dig in the sand with, play chase, slide and swing…. and then by the end of the play session they say by and part ways likely to never meet again. But the child is content to have found a playmate for just a small while, fully content.
    Find your inner child, my beautiful sister, the right people will be drawn to you and will love being in your presence, even if it’s just for a while. ❤❤

    • Jules
      Jules says:

      Awww I love you Mik! And I know, right? Watching the kids play and make friends without lifting a finger really is so inspiring. It could be that easy as adults too, but we’re all too caught up worried about what someone might think of us to just walk up to someone and attempt to connect with them.

  9. Aunt Deb
    Aunt Deb says:

    Julia, since you were a small baby I have always described you as a loner. Not as a negative but as an adjective that we should all be jealous of. You were able to join in the “pack” of cousins and sisters or sit for hours entertaining yourself. It’s a God given gift. So many people need to be surrounded by people but you can take it or leave it. Own what you were given. Thrive in the gift. Take on the world in your own terms. So proud that you reconize that being part of the hip group is not what life is meant to be. Fly like the beautiful soul you are (but be safe, I do worry)
    Love you my brave One


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