The hard thing about trying to identify certain emotions is that they can really become such a part of your daily life that it’s complicated to even recognize them. Like when you have a puppy and it’s growing everyday, but to the person who lives with the puppy, it’s less noticeable than to the person who comes and visits once a week.

Loneliness has been one of those emotions for me. I lived alone for a few years and wasn’t dating anyone steadily. If you asked me if I was lonely, I’d say, “No way. I like being single. I feel free.” Which was totally true.

But at the same time, I was feeling really melancholy some days. A little bit stuck in the past and uncertain about the future. I’d see my friends and family nearly every day and have fun. And at the same time, I was feeling stuck in my head and trying to solve things on my own and hide my emotions to make sure everyone thought I was doing okay and didn’t worry about me.

It really took me moving out of my old apartment to recognize how lonely I actually was. I wish I could hug that version of myself – the self that would feel sad and hide it from the people around her. She was trying so hard to be strong and self-sufficient.

Now that I’m in a new chapter of my life, I find myself still wondering what’s next, but I feel like I have more of a clear vision of what I want in life.

Instead of being in an old apartment that reminded me of what I lost, I am in a new space that makes me feel more open and hopeful for the future.

Getting a roommate again opened my eyes to how much I was craving connection with another person.

What I’ve learned is that loneliness is less about being with someone in your physical presence all the time and more about being vulnerable with your emotions and where you’re at.

This lonely feeling was so tied with shame that I refused to open up about it. I was feeling like I failed and like I didn’t know how to start over and move on.

Until you allow someone to witness shame or loneliness, you are living in it. It can feel heavy and uncomfortable, but when you let someone in to how you’re feeling, you can actually allow for it to lighten.

A big part of the loneliness that I have experienced my whole life has been around my sexuality. I’ve been terrified of allowing people to know that I am anything other than straight.

I think one of the loneliest feelings I’ve ever felt is hiding who I am.

I was so lost in the fake version of myself that I genuinely didn’t feel like I knew who I was originally. Before knowing that people expected me to be someone else.

The more I open up and allow myself to be me, the less lonely I feel. It’s a work in progress – you don’t go from hiding everything about yourself to being an open book overnight.

But the more I truly give my authentic self a chance, the closer to genuine happiness I feel.

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