During my 5 years of living abroad, there were many where I felt lonely. If you’ve often felt lonely during your stay abroad as well, then that’s absolutely normal. Everybody is going through these experiences.
You see, there is a good reason why when I moved to Australia, I spent the first couple of weeks primarily focusing on finding new friends. Yes, I did so even before I started to arrange myself when it comes to ‘important’ things like work or university. And until today, I believe that this was the right decision to make.
In my view, the first thing you should do upon arriving in a new country is find at least one person with whom you can have regular contact
Loneliness is a feeling that will never let you go, not even when you keep yourself busy, or distract yourself in some way. Therefore, it is important to deal with this feeling of loneliness first, and to do that you need a friend – at least if you arrive in the new country on your own. But even if you are with your spouse, I’d still advice the same.
Sometimes, however, this just isn’t enough.
In my years abroad, I have seen so many people come and go. You make amazing friends… but very soon they move on to go somewhere else. After a while this can lead to a feeling of frustration. Many times I have asked myself why I should even make friends, if after a while they will leave the country anyways? Or I will move on, and then I have to say goodbye as well?
Now, I do think very differently, though. Every friend I make is a precious gift to me, because now I am much more aware that these friendships hold a lifetime. When I go back to Germany, I have my old friends there. When I go back to Indonesia, I have my old friends there. When I go to Tokyo, I have friends who I know from my time in Indonesia. When I go to Chile, I have friends who I know from my time in Australia. And just like this, I can say that in many parts of the world I have friends who are dear to me, and who I can meet if I was to go to these places. And that is something really beautiful to think of.
But again, this knowledge just isn’t enough.
Sometimes, despite having very close friends, that feeling of loneliness can still creep in. And here, I believe, every person in different in some ways. We all have our own reasons for why we are feeling lonely. But there is one thing we do have in common, though: we are feeling lonely because something is missing in our lives.
What is it that you are really missing in your life?
I believe this is an important question to ask yourself. As for me, I have probably never consciously asked myself that question. Thus, I had to learn it the hard way. It took me years to figure out what it was.
In my case, the answer to that question was simple: a sense of stability.
Having my friends is absolutely crucial to my life, and I am grateful to every single one of them. But one thing they simply could not give me is that sense of stability. Under normal circumstances, when we are living in our own country, we are getting this sense of stability from our family. We know that they will always be there for us, and that we can always come back to them. We can always go over, and have somebody to share our feelings with if we need it.
When we live abroad, it just isn’t that simple. Of course our families are still there for us, but talking to them face-to-face, or talking to them via Skype, will never be same.
That’s why, for me the day I met my beloved girlfriend was a true blessing. Of course, finding your true love is always amazing, will always make you extremely happy, and always gives you a sense of stability. But I must say, in this case it was really necessary for me to get that feeling of being completely fulfilled. Since I believe in our love for each other, I also get exactly this sense of stability that was missing from my life.
Now, there is two factors that contribute to my sense of stability: my girlfriend, and writing. These are two constants that I believe will always be part of my life – despite the fact that in every other way, my life can always change completely from one day to another.
Please take some time and answer these questions for yourself:
- What is behind my feeling of loneliness? Where does it really come from?
- What is it that I am really missing in my life?
- What is it that can give me whatever it is I am missing?
As always, do let me know whether these questions were helpful to you. Also, what is it that you are doing when you are feeling lonely? I’d appreciate your answers!