I ended up focusing on myself and my wellbeing way more than I ever had before. I was practising self-love and cultivating a positive body image – and things seemed bearable. I began networking online and making solid friendships, as well as doing well professionally too.
The lockdown fast went from a burden which inflicted so much depression and anxiety on me, to being the best blessing I had ever known.
The same rings true for Katie Tobin, a 23-year-old writer from Durham. Katie told us that she didn’t mind the solitude that came with lockdown loneliness, “[the solitude] was kind of easy at first, as other people were in the same boat,” she went on to explain how she actually feels a little more lonely now restrictions have lifted. “When I’m not at particular social events or gatherings as I feel like there’s a compulsion to do it all now!” Reflecting on lockdown, she said “I loved it, I loved the kinds of relationships you’d build from moments like these and they’ve turned into true and solid friendships.”
Grateful for the lessons learned in lockdown, and still slightly down from not having any IRL friends in London, it’s now September 2021 and I’ve just turned 24. I now leave my house regularly – probably three or four times a week. Wearing a mask 98% of the time that I’m away from home, and armed with a litre of sanitiser, I go out for coffee with my mum, sometimes I pop to my local shopping centre, I might head into Chelsea for lunch, and I often go on long bus rides to get to know London a little more. Although I do all of the above, I’m still not comfortable with mixing and mingling with other people just yet and can’t see me doing so for a long while, even though I’m double jabbed.
Positive Psychology Coach Rebecca Lockwood told GLAMOUR that if you’re too nervous to mingle just yet, take things slowly if you can. “If you feel uncomfortable and out of sorts, take things as slow as you feel works for you if you can. Understand that it is going to feel normal feeling different as things change as the seasons change.”
She also urged us all to check in with ourselves and how we are feeling. “Take notice of how you are feeling and know that this is ok. However you feel at the moment it will probably be uncomfortable. It may even feel as though you are doing things for the first time again.”
It’s also important to understand that most of the world will also be feeling the same right now, “and it’s ok” Rebecca explained. “A lot of people will be feeling anxious at the moment, and it’s normal to feel this way. Coming back out of your comfort zone can cause the physical effects of anxiety, so be kind to yourself.”
Rebecca told us that there are so many local networks to connect with people who are doing similar things to you, “local networking can be done in person and online and it also gives you the opportunity to learn and connect with others who are on the same wavelength as you.”
There are local Facebook communities, pages and groups that can be joined such as Meeting New Friends, or you can search your local area and join a local networking group. There are also apps like Bumble BFF – which is a dating app, but for friendships rather than relationships. I’ve also found that messaging people randomly on Instagram or Twitter can also work a treat – most of my URL (online) friendships have been formed this way and I reckon they’re pretty solid.
Although I haven’t got any IRL friends in London just yet, when I’m comfortable to head out to bars and coffee shops with my URL friends – it’ll be even more wonderful. But in the meantime, I’m thanking lockdown loneliness for enriching my life the way it did.