Newfoundland author White writes in the National Post about her new book, Lonely. A timely work on how to cope with life alone, and undoubtedly an article held to the Valentine’s Day weekend for a reason.
I don’t actually talk that much about my life before loneliness hit in the book, because it’s not what the book is about: No one really cares about what I was doing when I was 27, right? But I had a very big social circle. It was quite gregarious. I kept very busy. I maintained a large social circle, which I think is easier to do in your twenties than it is when you get older and people start having kids and jobs and you’ve got responsibilities of your own. And when those things started to fall away, I just couldn’t keep it at bay anymore.
What loneliness does is, instead of clinging to relationships and trying to nurture them, you can end up retreating. And that’s what happened to me. That’s what makes loneliness such a problem: It can alter the way you look at the world in a really fundamental way, and make the social world harder to navigate.
There’s this taboo: We’re not supposed to talk about it. I think one of the things that not talking about loneliness does is it allows the ideal — the sort of thing you see on Friends or The L Word — to remain unchallenged. And I think we have to start challenging it.
If you’re 25 and you’ve just broken up with your girlfriend, it’s socially acceptable to say, “I feel lonely tonight.” If you’re 30, and you’ve been struggling with loneliness for six years, it’s not socially acceptable to say that. So we tend to think that long-term loneliness doesn’t exist. But it does exist, and people aren’t talking about it.