London is pretty lonely.
When I came to London in November, I was living with one of my best friends.
When I came back after the holidays in January, my best friend had moved to Sydney, but I had my dog, Meyer, with me. (I know she is not a person, but she was excited to see me every time I walked through the door and that counts for a lot.)
Now I am back again and I had to leave Meyer back in Florida (she is living a lux life of retirement in FL w/my parents).
I really am alone and I am lonely.
When I walk by a cafe and see a group of girls having a glass of wine, I am flooded with jealousy. I consider approaching them and asking if I can join them. There would probably be a 50% chance that they would welcome me with open arms or a 50% chance that would look at me like I am crazy and intrusive.
The pubs in England overflow into the streets at any day or time of the week. I am so tempted to walk up to a group and say “I love a great beer and watching a good game, can I join you?”, but I just keep walking.
I live on a really popular street for bars, restaurants, and markets. I can hear the world of socialization through my windows as it passes me by, while I stay in on a Friday night.
There is so much to do in London. I wake up each day and there is a flood of ideas of things that I could possibly do. Sometimes I go do them on my own. Sometimes I am lucky to find someone to join me, but my pool of options is pretty small (about 3 people), so I am typically left with the choice between on my own or not at all.
More often than not I feel like I am wasting this opportunity that I have in front of me and it riddles me with guilt and sadness.
Making new friendships is hard. I know some people compare it to dating, but I think it is more like job hunting.
First, you have to find the elusive potential friend who wants to make new friends. There are the typical suggestions of where these potential friends are hiding: alumni groups, mutual connections, meet up groups, blah blah blah. I have heard them all at this point, but just because there are 10,000 jobs posted on LinkedIn, doesn’t mean they are looking for you or that you are the right fit.
If you are lucky enough to find a potential friend, cross your fingers that you make it past the initial interview. Do they like you? Do you like them? Are they willing to welcome you into their social calendar?
If they are, you have made it to the 2nd round interview. Now you have to try to convince potential friend that you deserve the job. You might get the temp job, just a surface level friend who gets invited out for drinks or light socializing every once and awhile. But, when you have no friends, you are hoping you get the real friend job and have found someone you can get past the surface level and really be yourself. Without a real friend in this city, you can feel completely isolated and alone.
Friend hunting is exhausting. You are constantly trying to find new friends, work your network and get interviews. When you chase down a potential lead only to have it not come through as you had hoped, you are left disappointed in the time you spent and in yourself.
If the process of making friends wasn’t hard enough, just getting the guts to put yourself out there is a feat in itself. It can take nerves of steel to walk into a room alone, meet a stranger, or do something on your own.
Living with depression, my mind instinctively tells me that I should isolate myself from others. If I hide away then I won’t burden anyone around me with my depression and I can relieve myself of the stress of trying to fake it when I am around people. When the depression is loud, it is a struggle to walk out the front door, but when it is quiet, I tend to forget that it is still there and something that I am feeling is not a flaw, but a symptom.
Right now, I am trying really hard not to give in and hide away from the world even though that is what my head is telling me to do. I am trying to win the friend hunt and create as many opportunities for success as possible and I know that eventually the probability will land in my favor and I will get the job.
*Disclaimer: I hate to follow my last post with another one that is on the less rainbows and sunshine side of this experience, but it is what is at the top of my mind at the moment. I promise, I have many informative and entertaining posts to come about my life in London.