Have you ever been at a party – maybe surrounded by a dozen of your friends – and felt completely and totally ALONE?
You might have brushed off the feeling, or thought you were being stupid. But you're definitely not the only one feeling this way.
Studies show that one out of 10 people in the UK feel they don't have a close friend, which if you do the math, equates to about 4.7 million people... and that's just in one country.
While it's totally natural to feel alone sometimes, chronic loneliness has a slew of side effects, including depression and alcoholism. As human beings, it's important for us to feel connected to the people around us.
If you're having trouble feeling like you don't belong and you have no idea why, consider one of the reasons below.
They'll help you figure out why you may be feeling lonely, even when you're not alone:
1. You aren't taking part in a cause greater than yourself.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs in psychology states that humans need to fulfill a series of needs (in hierarchal order). Each stage of needs they fulfill leads them closer to self-actualization, which is defined as the "full realization of one's potential."
After basic needs like food and shelter are covered, the third need in the hierarchy is for love and belonging in social groups. These social groups have to be BOTH large and small, which means you need to be connected not only to your friends and family, but also to society as a whole.
If you aren't taking the time to find your passion and volunteer for a cause you believe in, you may not be fulfilling this need to its full potential. As a result, you feel lonely.
2. Your loneliness is inherited.
Studies also suggest loneliness is a moderately inherited trait. So basically, if someone in your family tended to feel lonely even while maintaining an active social life, chances are, you will too.
Loneliness therefore isn't just a state of being, but rather, a gene that can be passed on from generation to generation. About 14 to 27 percent of one's tendency to feel lonely is due to genetics.
Therefore, it can help you to identify the things that make you feel less alone and explore why you feel alone in certain circumstances, be it your mood or your choice in friend group.
Doing so will help you figure out exactly what's behind your emotions.
3. You aren't close enough to your friend group.
There are two types of people in the world: those who value quality over quantity when it comes to friends, and vice versa. Figure out which one you are.
Maybe you're the type who'd rather have a handful of close friends, but you instead have a random crew of 20 people you only hang out with socially. Or maybe you desire only superficial connections, and feel you don't have enough friends.
Re-evaluating your current relationships will help you figure out which kinds of people you need to add more of to your life.
4. You spend too much time on social media.
FOMO IS REAL, and it's even stronger when people are posting filtered versions of themselves on social media.
Research constantly links depression with heavy social media usage, and you feel even lonelier when you think you're the only one left out of fun plans.
Try cutting down on it and having more personal, face-to-face interactions instead.
5. You don't confront your feelings.
If you find it hard to express your feelings, you're automatically closing yourself off to making real connections with people.
You can only truly be close with someone if you let that person know how you're feeling: the good, the bad and the ugly.
It can be extremely difficult if you're not used to it, but being vulnerable will definitely help you feel less lonely.
6. You're an introvert.
For several introverts, socializing is simply exhausting.
Sometimes, you may not even realize you're an introvert if you find it easy enough to socialize. But the thing is, you don't notice that after socializing for a while, you need a lot of time to recover.
If this is the case, try to figure out which social commitments energize you, as opposed to the ones that make you feel alone. You may find that (ironically) you feel LEAST lonely when you're alone.
7. You lack self-confidence.
I know it sucks to hear, but your own self-confidence can play a huge role in the way you relate to others. It's been seen lonely people sometimes find themselves unworthy or incapable of forming healthy, long-term relationships.
Ironically, this causes them to retreat even more, and starts an uncomfortable cycle. You could be surrounded by your closest friends and somehow feel like they hate you, so you shy away from showing your true personality to them.
But what you need to realize is this: You are worth WAY more than you think you are.
Becoming more confident certainly isn't easy, and you may fail sometimes... but that's what will help you grow. Have faith in yourself, and your people will find you and love you for exactly who you are.
So, the next time you're with people you care about but feel crazily out of place, explore the reasons why.
It might be something you need to change... or you just might need to dump your squad.