Invisible. Friendless. Abandoned. These are just a few words that people use to describe what it feels like to be lonely.
Last week I had just finished a class at my local YMCA and sat down near the exit to place an online order for two Double Shake Shack Burgers (I know, I know, but hey, a girl’s gotta keep up her energy. Besides, I didn’t eat them both—one was for Steve.). While I was finishing up the order, a woman whom I had never met, sat down in the chair beside me. She shared with me that she had observed our class through the glass door and thought it looked like fun. I enthusiastically agreed and invited her to join our next class, to which she then leaned into me, looked into my eyes and softly replied, “I’m lonely.”
Needless to say, our conversation from there had little to do with do with dance fitness, yoga or barre classes.
As she invited me (which I found incredibly courageous and transparent), into her vulnerable state I willingly entered as the words of Emerson danced though my head: “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
So, last week I made a new friend and was reminded that we must do better. There are Lonelys floating all around us, most of whom will not tell a living soul but who suffer in silence.
I have a new mission in life and I’m looking for recruits, ages 4 to 104. I want to eradicate loneliness. In a country of over 330 million people no one should feel invisible. No one should feel abandoned. No one should be without friends.
What, you might ask, is required should you choose to take on such an audacious goal?
Smile. Listen. Invite. Welcome. (Rinse and repeat.)
We can do this.