Living in a new city: Even when you’re doing all the right things, you’re still going to have periods of loneliness

Winter is a magical, but difficult time for me. Once the awe of December wears off, and you’re in the throes of January/February it’s hard to shake the feeling of the winter blues. Even though I was putting myself out there and doing things, I couldn’t shake the feeling of loneliness.

In one week I went to my oil painting class, a concert, The First Friday Art Walk, and out to dinner two of those nights. I did all of these things by myself with no hesitation. In fact, I had a great time people watching and enjoying my solitude. However, by Friday night I was feeling more alone than I’ve ever felt.

Loneliness

Why? I did everything right! I went out and did things. I wasn’t being a hermit. I was getting out and being social!

The truth is even though there were other people at these events, I was still 100% alone. No one was there to share the experience with. No one would know or care if I went home early. No one would know I was there at all. I came home and promptly had a 10-hour panic attack.

What has finally settled in is the fact that this is home now. The newness of living in a new city has passed. I’m just living and working here now. I am no longer in the vacation mindset. That compounded with the winter blues has made everything look rather bleak.

I thought having to dog-sit this weekend would be THE worst thing for me to do right now. I just wanted to crawl in bed and feel bad for myself. Yes, I would do something about it…later…However, there is no later with a dog. If they want to go out, you have to take them out NOW. If they want to crawl into your lap and cuddle, there’s no way around it–you’re going to have a puppy in your lap.

Dog sitting

I was walking Junebug earlier when I realized that he has given me exactly what I needed this weekend. I had someone to cuddle with when I needed it, someone to walk and enjoy the sunsets with, and I had someone help me reconnect with myself.

My friends and family have always said that I have a way with dogs–that I am attune to them and know what they need. It also looks like the opposite might be true as well.

Dog views

The moral of this anecdote is that dogs make everything better. Obviously. But I needed to figure out a way to keep this feeling going for the times I don’t have a dog to look after. I decided that I need to start engaging with people when I’m out and about. It’s not enough to merely be in the same room with other people, I need to start connecting with them, too. Ways that I’m going to do this include: going to book clubs and engaging in discussions with people, going to networking events even though I dislike them, and joining other groups that force me to communicate with other people. It’s not a foolproof method, but it’s a start.

Did you have periods of loneliness when you moved to your new city? What did you do to combat it?

11 Comments

  1. Does Portland have a newcomers’ group where you could meet with others in a similar situation? If you want to help others, befriend a resident of a nursing home–visit and care. So many are left alone and forgotten; maybe your loneliness could be turned to real benefit.

  2. Yes! When I moved to DC, I was all alone. I was lucky to have a lot of people at work my age, and they became fast friends. Outside of work was harder. I mostly just kept getting involved to keep myself and my weekends busy. I volunteered at a museum, joined my schools alumni softball team (even though I am terrible at softball), and joined a running club.

    Eventually I just got very used to doing things by myself. I would take a long walk to a different grocery store and ended up baking a lot to fill up my time.

  3. When I lived in Boston, I hit a point where most of my existing friends were in relationships or newly married and I didn’t always have people to go out with so I ended up joining the Boston Sport & Social Club. I am not athletic, but it was a great opportunity to connect with other people. I think Portland has a similar group. Whatever your hobbies, there’s usually a group or organization where you can meet others with similar interests. I’ve checked out but haven’t yet tried any of the groups listed on meetup.com. There seem to be some fun ones. Good luck and welcome to Maine. It’s a wonderful place to live!

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