Yesterday I read about Emily Fox, a 32 year old single mum who has dubbed herself Britain’s Loneliest Woman. The message that it is not just the elderly that suffer from loneliness resonated with many people across the world. My heart broke when I read her story, so I wanted to write an open letter to her, and anyone else who may feel exactly the same.
It takes great courage to admit that you are lonely, and to reach out to people in order to make friends.
I know this, because I have been there too.
Just over 10 years ago, my marriage broke down and I moved halfway across the world from Australia to the UK. A father of two and in my thirties, I didn’t know a single soul in Manchester.
I could have easily isolated myself and simply gone about my routine.
Get up, work, watch TV, have a drink, go to bed. Repeat.
I know many people that shut out their loneliness by doing the same thing.
But I didn’t. Instead I decided that I was being given a clean slate to find myself and build a dream life.
I know it can be difficult socialising when you have children.
Family comes first in my book. You have three beautiful children, and dedicate your time to them, but there are still lots of things you can do.
You are not the first parent to crave adult conversation, and you will not be the last.
Family fun days, inviting other parents out for a coffee, or organising a walk in the park with dogs and children will enhance your life and theirs. Even when you are doing the weekly shop, go with someone and chat over the groceries.
Reaching out is the first step.
I know since sharing your story, lots of people have reached out to connect with you. So your courage in speaking up is already leading you down the path to fulfilling friendships.
Social Media is great for finding like-minded individuals. Personally, I find that fulfilling friendships are formed from meeting in person. There is something really special when you find a connection with someone who laughs with you and shares your passion in life.
I put an advert up inviting other professionals to join me for a drink.
“What if no one showed up?” But they did. Men. Women. Every single one of them just like you and I. Craving connection and friendship with others.
My new friends and I went from our weekly Friday night at the pub, to going abseiling in wales to going on holiday together. I loved every minute.
It was how I founded Social Circle. Now I have my dream career helping people, just like you, meet new people and find new friends. I even found the love of my life this way.
Finding friends need not be difficult. You just have to know where to look.
It is important to carve out time in your diary for you.
I know you say you don’t have much support, but it is out there. Whether it is an hour or two, use your family, willing friends or a childminder to give you a much-needed couple of hours break from the kids. Use that time to try out new activities and do the things you have always wanted to do. Don’t feel guilty (or let anyone make you feel that way). Taking time for you is important and benefits the whole family.
Always wanted to paint? Look for art workshops and PopUp painting in your area.
Want to travel? Learn a language of a country you want to visit.
I promise you will inevitably start making friends with people who share your passion.
Do you fancy letting your hair down and going out for a drink with a few adults? There are plenty of ways you can achieve. Start looking for groups like Social Circle – or do what I did. Start your own.
I wish you the best of luck Emily, now is the time for a glorious new beginning filled with friendship and fun.