Throughout my life, I never really considered myself a very social person. Outside of close family friends, I could count the number of times I’ve gone out with friends with my hands. Even within whatever friend group I was with, I always felt alienated; I thought that no one cared whether I was around or not. For the entirety of my middle school years, I believed that those around me considered me the quintessential “weird kid.” It is an experience that I’m sure many people my age can relate to.
Loneliness is statistically a bigger problem than it has ever been in recent history. This is especially noticeable among younger people, particularly teens, as shown in a BBC study. Studies have shown that the number of teenagers that would describe themselves as lonely has increased substantially in recent decades.
According to Healthline, a health info website, this sense of loneliness can negatively affect a person. The amount of cortisol, a hormone that causes stress in the body, is increased by feelings of loneliness. Large amounts of cortisol in the body can have terrible long-term consequences, raising the risk of contracting a myriad of health conditions, including obesity, heart problems, and cancer. Loneliness can negatively affect mental health as well, leading to depression and other mental health conditions.
It’s speculated that, in a shocking twist, technology-based communication has increased feelings of loneliness among teenagers. Though social media has connected more people than ever before in human history, this hasn’t replaced proper human interaction. If someone is relying on social media and mobile devices for the majority of their human interaction, this could very well lead to increased feelings of isolation, as they are still deprived of proper physical, social interaction.
The best way to stave off these feelings of loneliness and isolation is to connect more with others. To simply type messages to others on the internet or be in the same room as someone as you both look down on your phones isn’t enough. If you’re with friends, you should try to be included in a conversation, or maybe join them if they’re playing a video game or do some other activity together.
Another vital part of not being lonely is self-respect. It’s common for people that experience feelings of loneliness and isolation to have a negative mindset. If you tend to self-criticize, often you should force yourself to be more positive and think about why you’re criticizing yourself from a logical standpoint instead of merely insulting yourself. It’s also good to try to improve your sense of self-worth. Instead of focusing on your failures and missteps, you should consider your successes and take pride in them.
Though many people may feel lonely, it always helps to know that it’s never too late to improve yourself. Just because you think that you have your back to the wall now doesn’t mean that you can never move away from it. Though it may seem hard, it’s never impossible to change your mindset.