Feeling Lonely

2011/06/15 in Health

Loneliness is a sign that you’re growing up. Little kids seldom get lonely because their whole world revolves around mom, dad, and themselves.


But since you’re not a kid anymore, you don’t depend on your parents for everything. Your new independence can make you feel lonely. This type of loneliness is part of growing up, and it should be thought of as normal and natural. But knowing that these lonely feelings are normal doesn’t make them any easier to handle. We’d like to try and help by talking about some of the reasons you might be feeling lonely. We’ll make some suggestions that might help you cope with these feelings.

During this time in your life you’re trying to break away from your parents. You’re looking for new and interesting friends, or new things to do and places to go. You may be looking for someone with whom you can share your feelings and be really close to. Having one or more good friends, whether they’re guys or girls, can be a great help in dealing with large and small problems. If you haven’t yet found one or more friends you feel very close to, you may be feeling lonely.

If you had a friend like this, and then lost him or her, you can also experience intense loneliness. You may feel rejected, abandoned, and just plain alone because of your loss. If you truly cared for this person, the pain can be overwhelming.

You may be feeling lonely, too, if you’ve been going with someone for a while and the two of you split. Your loneliness may be especially painful because of the way society has conditioned you to feel. When you reach your middle or late teens, it’s practically expected that you pair off with someone. If you were part of a couple and then suddenly find yourself alone again, you can feel really out of it. It might seem like everyone has somebody but you.

You can also feel very lonely when you’re cut off from all your old friends. This can happen when your parents move and you have to switch schools. Maybe you’ve grown away from your friends because of new interests you’ve developed, or because they’ve gotten into things you can’t or don’t want to get involved in. You feel lonely — not only because you miss the good times, but also because you’re cut off from those people who knew and accepted you as you really are. The way your friends treated you gave you a pretty good idea of what others think about you — which is an important part of discovering your own identity. when you’re cut off from people who can help you piece together a picture of who you are, it can make you feel a little uneasy about yourself.

Your friends do help create the image you have of yourself, but who you think you are is very important also. If you have an unclear picture of who you are, you may feel cut off from yourself. This is another type of loneliness.

We’ve said that loneliness can be caused when you loosen the very strong emotional ties to your parents you had as a kid, and can’t find or keep new attachments. Having trouble creating your own identity sometimes causes loneliness. But although it’s painful and often frustrating, some good experiences can come from feeling lonely.

Often, people who feel lonely take constructive steps to improve their lives. It’s like saying to yourself, “I’m sick of feeling this way, and it’s about time I did something about it.” Getting fed up with feeling lonely can lead people to make new friends, develop new interests, change careers, and find new loves.

We can discover other ways to make loneliness work for us if we look at the type of person a “loner” is. A loner does not feel more loneliness than the average person — he’s just become more used to being alone. “Loners” often have better developed imaginations, more creative ability, and deeper personal insight than people who always need to have others around them. We’re not saying that you should become a loner. What we’re saying is that you should learn to feel comfortable with people — and without them.

Sure, some good things can come out of loneliness. But what if the way you’re feeling is just plain alone and miserable? What can you do?

A good way to get rid of the everyday lonely blues is to trust your natural instinct to “get up and go.” Call a friend, go for a walk, or take in a movie. Do something unusual, or something you’ve always wanted to do, but never took the time for. Treat yourself!

It will also help if you keep in mind two things: one, that loneliness is a sign that you’re no longer a kid but well on your way to becoming an adult; and two, that the loneliness you’re experiencing won’t last forever. It may seem like time is standing still, but most kinds of loneliness lasts only a short while. Be careful, however, if you’re lonely for quite a while and can’t find a reason for it. Sometimes chemical imbalances in the body can cause emotions like loneliness. Please see a doctor if this seems to describe your situation.

In this tape we talked about why you may feel lonely at times. We also gave you some suggestions on how to cope with loneliness. Remember that a certain amount of loneliness is normal and natural. It’s also necessary. If you’re never alone, you might not find out who you really are because you don’t get the chance to look at yourself apart from others.

For additional support and resources please call our 24-hour Teen Hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.)

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.