By Cynthia Ayeza, Uganda:
For what seemed like the longest time, I could not explain to those who asked why I did not feel lonely. Suffice to say the term meant little to me even though I understood what it meant. Often you will encounter people from the Christian faith saying that “you may be feeling lonely but you are not alone”. I know that for many, that statement makes some kind of sense. It just did not and still does not resonate with me. If people are lonely and feeling lonely, they may very well also be alone. Isn't the very nature of loneliness the sense that you are quite by yourself? That you do not have anyone with whom to share a particular moment, time or place? That your desire is to have someone or something to share a time or place or experience with?
Recently, I was asked, again, when I intended to get married, and whether I wasn't feeling lonely. The inquiry no longer irks me as it did in the past. But I should point out that getting married would not in any way solve loneliness since, in my opinion, being unmarried is not the source of loneliness. I have also often heard that many are married and yet very lonely in their marriages. I am sure we all know at least one person that is a 'victim' (I use the term loosely in this instance) of such a marriage – which makes it a lot of people combined.
It turns out, however, that there is one aspect, or even a prerequisite, one could say, of loneliness that we seem to ignore. A friend, and one I look up to in many ways, recently shared that loneliness is a choice. It did not once occur to me that loneliness could be a result of choice. People play an active, and probably the most important and initial part in their loneliness. People actually choose to be lonely. For me, I just didn't understand why or how people could get or feel lonely because it was hardly ever an issue for me. But when Ron Barnard mentioned that loneliness is a choice, it was truly a “ah huh that's it!” moment for me. It made sense. It still does.
I understand that not everyone is friendly so to speak, but for one to have friends, one needs or ought to be friendly or at least attempt to make friends. Loneliness is a choice because people choose to stay in their little corners, feeling sorry for themselves and expecting that the onus for friendship should/must start with someone else. What, perhaps, they do not realise is that there are so many others also thinking “someone else” should make the move. What about shyness and timidity? I say – what about it? “But I simply do not trust people because I have been hurt too many times,” one may say. We can create as many excuses as we wish for why we feel lonely or why we may not be willing to make the first move, but bottom line is – loneliness really is a choice.
So as life would have it, you and I can do something about loneliness – we can get up and do some befriending. If you do not have a set of good manners, making you somewhat repulsive to audiences, then do some shopping around and cultivate some attractive traits and characteristics. Do not forget to include in your basket a smile, kindness, initiate a warm hello, random wave (hugs get too personal, I think), get to know your neighbour and throw in some positive speech in your conversations (whining is such a turn off sometimes…actually all the time).
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