Every Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.
I want to start off by saying: this is not an easy thing to write about, mostly because I’m really feeling the effects of it right now. This week I’ve been fighting off a cold, and as I write this from my bed on Friday morning, I can tell you that I’ve now stopped fighting. I’m run down and a bit poorly.
And I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself.
Looking after myself and trying not to do too much (so that whatever’s got me run down would quietly, you know, piss off) has meant that I’ve been inside on my own for a lot of this week. Which has meant even less human interaction than usual. And that has really hit home.
Working by yourself is lonely. Running a small business is lonely.
How many times have I heard that from small business owners? And I understood, I really did. But now that I’m nearly two months in and working on my own, I understand more.
I like my own company. I dislike pretending to like people I don’t (as discussed last week). I like my clients, I like my work. But I’m human, and as humans we crave the company of others. Not always real life company, even – sometimes we just want someone to say, “well done”, or “I feel the same”, or “do you want a cup of tea?” (I’ve somehow become completely overwhelmed with gratitude every time someone else makes me a cup of tea. It’s a rare occurrence these days, and feels so thoughtful!)
And I think in a recapitulation of the “comparison is the thief of joy” theme, sometimes it’s easy to imagine that other people don’t feel as lonely as we do. That they’re over there, never feeling insecure, totally fine working by themselves, and completely self-sufficient.
Well. I wager that that’s not true. No man is an island, and neither are we.
So here’s the thing:
Before we all try to rush and fix it by seeking acknowledgement on social media or hustling for attention from our nearest and dearest, how about we accept that this feeling of loneliness is human? That we are having a completely normal, truthful, authentic reaction to our situation.
And then let’s think about the feedback we really want, the authentic, truthful, maybe painful honesty that would make us feel seen and heard. Who can give you that? Where’s your community?
When was the last time someone really understood you and your current challenges and successes? Remember that feeling. Sometimes that’s enough.
And in the style of those cheesy posters, how about, seeing as you’re here, you take what you need from me:
- You’re doing your best
- Well done, you did a great job getting through Father’s Day/summer holidays/the year so far
- You’re offering something unique in the world
- You’re not alone
- I know just how you feel
- I hear you. I see you.