“Why do I feel lonely in a group?” This was the question that one of my friends asked as we sat in a coffee shop after a trip to the gym. She explained that, since she was still working, she was always surrounded by other people. But, she still felt lonely most of the time.
When I first started working on Sixty and Me, I didn’t quite understand this phenomenon. But, after talking with many of you, I have a better understanding for why this is the case.
In many ways, baby boomers are one of the most connected generations of all time. We all have email accounts. We have 100s or friends on Facebook. We have the ability to visit our family, even if we don’t do this as often as we would like. So, why is it that we feel so alone?
The answer is simple. We don’t need more people in our lives. We need the right people in our lives.
I’m reminded of a quote by Albert Camus, who said “Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
Think about the people that you have known over the years. How many of them treated you like equals? How many shared your passions, values and personality? Our bosses try to lead us. Our co-workers compete with us. Our friends are often “accidental” acquaintances that we met through our family or work.
As Camus implied, what we want in life is people who just walk beside us and are our friends.
This is an important insight for a few reasons. First, it implies that we should stop trying to add more people to our lives and start looking for the right people. Second, it suggests that the best way to meet people who will walk beside us is to start walking.
We can’t expect people who share our interests to come to us. We need to use services like Sixty and Me to seek them out online. And, in the “real-world”, we need to share our passions with the world.
How would you describe the perfect friend? Are you looking for someone who shares your passions? Or, do you simply want to have people in your life who care about you and want to listen? Please join the discussion.
Watch my interview with loneliness expert Kory Floyd to get more tips on dealing with loneliness.