Episode 12 - Being single during the pandemic
Hey everyone! Welcome back to The British English Language Podcast! Wow - this episode has taken me a long time to write! I started writing content for this episode four other times with four different topics and I abandoned every one! So, fifth time lucky and hopefully, as I write this one, it’ll be my final attempt and the words that you’re hearing right now!
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Episode 12 - Being single during the pandemic
I’m single and have not been in a relationship for almost three years. This means that I’ve been single for the entire duration of the pandemic so far (until this point). I have spent A LOT of this time by myself. Well, I say by myself but actually I’ve never been alone as my little furry companion, Björk, is always by my side.
In 2020, this solitude was welcome for me. I used the time and the space to reflect on myself and work on a few creative projects. I spent most of the year living in a van in the UK and my van neighbours were never far away if I wanted to connect with another human being. Also at that point I felt relatively secure in my life and was managing to survive OK. So I never really felt ‘lonely’.
The thing is, there’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. On top of that, you don’t even have to be alone to feel lonely. You can be standing in a room full of people and feel lonelier than you’ve ever felt in your life. That’s why this episode doesn’t necessarily have to only relate to those of you who are single, like me. Those of you who are in partnership or married could also be facing similar lonely experiences just like people not in a relationship.
Of course, being single also doesn’t automatically equate to being lonely. Like I just mentioned, most of the last few years of my single life have not felt lonely. I know that every human being is on his or her own path in life. At different points in our lives, some of us thrive in relationships and some of us thrive being single. By the way, the verb ‘to thrive’ means to prosper or to flourish or, more simply, to grow and develop strongly.
But when we’re going through some kind of traumatic life event like the death of a family member for example, or a natural disaster such as an earthquake destroying our home, or losing our livelihood (i.e. our means to be able to live), this can make being single a very lonely experience. Suffering alone is 1000 times more painful than suffering with someone, or having someone be present with you whilst you’re suffering. I can only imagine that if loneliness didn’t exist then maybe the rates of suicide would be much lower.
So after these traumatic events happen in our lives, we usually go into survival mode. And this is a scary place to be. It would feel nice to have someone holding our hand whilst we walk through this survival phase of life. So from my experience, I’m coming to learn that being single makes surviving feel more difficult, both on a practical and an emotional level. I think we need each other more than ever. I think it’s very comforting and even healing to go through a difficult experience with someone else. I think it would feel much less scary. And it feels nice to know we’re able to depend on someone.
Often when we’re focussing on surviving in our lives, we don’t feel like we’re able to thrive. It feels like all of our energy is being directed towards figuring out how we’re going to pay the bills and feed ourselves, so we don’t feel like we have any remaining energy to put into other projects. So I think in these times, having someone there with us can help to share the burden (heavy weight) of survival and give each other more energy for more enjoyable things. Having someone special with you and supporting you is something to draw strength from. So I’m coming to realise that being in a supportive partnership with someone who has your best interests at heart (meaning that they care for your well-being) during challenging life circumstances, could really help you to thrive and not just survive.
Like I mentioned in episode 11, I’ve been finding 2021 quite difficult so far, and loneliness has played a big part in that. I think I’ve always identified myself as being independent and happy to be a bit of a loner and an introvert. But these last weeks I’ve been looking deeper inside myself and I’m realising that that’s not the full truth of who I am. There’s a part of me that wants to be wrapped up in cotton wool and looked after, like a helpless little baby! I think that throughout my life up until this point, I’ve been rejecting the need for dependence on other people. I always wanted to feel strong by trying to do everything by myself and I didn’t want to feel like a burden on other people. But I think I’m missing out if I continue trying to do everything alone. Other people can be a great source of strength, of inspiration, of compassion, of kindness and of course support. I think with the foundation of a network of supportive and loving human beings in our lives then we can get through this pandemic more comfortably.
Through all of this I really don’t know what I would’ve done without my dog Björk. Björk is a very special animal and she’s been wonderful company for me during these solitary and sometimes lonely moments. By the way, I made a short 5-minute video about how Björk came into my life, and our journey together, which you can find on my YouTube channel which is linked on the website - www.britishenglishlanguage.com.
I’m interested to hear about your experiences of either being single or being in a partnership through the pandemic. Do any of you resonate with my experiences? And if so, what has helped you to cope with any loneliness that you’re experiencing?
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Thank you as always so much for listening to this episode of The British English Language Podcast! I hope you found it helpful and interesting and I hope you’ll join me next time!