First, if you’re feeling isolated in life and want it that way, stop reading now. This article isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you want to change, and you’re interested in things you can do if you’re feeling isolated in life, keep reading.
Read This First
There’s an implication in the headline of this article that you don’t want to feel isolated in life anymore. Is that true? Are you prepared to take positive action? Even if that’s reaching out to the digital world for connection to human beings (or AI bots), action might be scary. It’s OK; the fact that you want to stop feeling isolated is enough to give you the energy to do something for yourself. Kudos to you! Now, here are a few ways to do that. This is NOT an exhaustive list, but it’s a start.
Part One: Beating Isolation Live and In-Person
The first list of connection opportunities is the kind where you physically appear in some sort of group activity. Clearly, we won’t be able to cover them all! We will deal with virtual activities later in this article.
There are people out there from every conceivable walk of life, and many of them like to get together to socialize or share the activities that give their lives meaning. Meetup.com is a great place to explore theme- and purpose-based groups that may spark your interest. There are Meetup groups for just about everything, and you can browse them easily based on your distance from where they meet. Cool.
Volunteer Your Skills…Or Learn New Ones
In San Diego, California, where I live, there is a large and active volunteer community. From beach clean-ups to sporting events to fundraisers to social and animal services it’s hard to imagine a limit to what a volunteer can’t do. Both for-profit and not-for-profit volunteer opportunities can range from advisory board positions to caregiving (for both humans and animals), ushering at symphony concerts to crowd control or general assistance at sporting events, rock concerts, or parades. There are ways to learn new skills as a volunteer, too, provided you are willing to tackle the opportunity with an open and willing mind.
Connecting with volunteer opportunities is often as simple as dialing 2-1-1 from your mobile device or landline phone. 2-1-1 call centers exist as community information hubs, and the representatives who answer calls to 2-1-1 are experts at connecting people in need with organizations and agencies that serve their local area.
If you are an active social media user, you may also be able to find volunteer opportunities that way. Facebook Groups or LinkedIn for Volunteers are two of the biggest ways you can use social media to find an opportunity that suits your skills…or allows you to learn new ones in a supportive, compassionate organization. You may find that volunteering a bit outside your comfortable skillset – or even in a sector where you have no experience at all! – is a terrific way to expand your potential, maybe even toward a new career. If you want to share your expertise, you will be able to find teaching and mentoring opportunities for that, too.
Become A One-Person Force For Good
This is a bit outside the box, but we’ve all heard and seen the unusual story or two that inspires us. Some of these stories relate to volunteers; some are one-person initiatives. Here are a few favorites; see if they spark your interest.
The Cat Grandpa
Just about says it all. Not for everyone, but I know people who have participated and it can be life-changing.
You’ve seen Matt’s YouTube videos. He travels the world and dances with anyone he can find. What a way to spread joy!
Yup. There’s a magazine about this! Get inspired. Sometimes just reading about it is enough to bust open the isolation I feel. How about you? No one has to win an award for it, but it feels good to know that good intentions are being put into action.
Now, let’s turn to ways to beat isolation without having to leave the comfort of your own home.
Part Two: Beating Isolation Virtually
Thanks to the ‘net, there are so many ways to beat isolation! Some are as old as the chat room (have you tried Reddit? – it’s a bit like a virtual Meetup.com) but with many modern improvements.
We’re not talking about trolling the social media shadows or joining an online argument or perpetuating your favorite paranoia or conspiracy theory…seriously! Why trade isolation for that when there are so many healthy alternatives? Besides, if you are doing any of those things, this article isn’t for you and you’re probably not as isolated as you like to think. We’re also going to leave out all the dating websites.
We’ve already mentioned Facebook Groups and LinkedIn for Volunteers. These are excellent resources for virtual connections as well; you can participate from your computer or mobile device, sometimes in a meaningful way. For example, if you have an expertise you don’t mind sharing, you can offer that to a relevant group people who need answers.
One interesting isolation-busting opportunity made possible by the ‘net is being a podcast guest. List yourself on a site like PodcastGuest.com or subscribe to their weekly guest request newsletter. If you fit the guest qualifications for a particular podcast and want to appear, they make it simple for you to send the podcast host a quick inquiry.
Podcast interviews are usually recorded, then edited and “aired” at a later date, so you needn’t worry too much about making a mistake. All you need to do this are some comfortable headphones and a decent microphone; your local computer store or even Amazon.com can recommend the best equipment for you to use as a guest.
If you enjoy talking to people this way, you may even want to start your own podcast on a subject that interests you.
Other Virtual Ideas
It’s amazing what is available on the ‘net these days. The 21st Century is rich with opportunities to connect yourself to other real live people, and even if that connection happens online, it can hold meaning for you in ways you might never have thought possible only a few years ago. Use your favorite search app to see what might be out there, even in unusual areas you haven’t encountered before. You could find yourself corresponding with graduate student researchers, or testing new applications, or proofreading novels by emerging authors. Opportunity is limited only by your imagination, so go for it! And use caution, please, so that you don’t get scammed. You’re on a responsible search for meaning, not just a frivolous kitten or puppy video binge, and you deserve the best.
The Magic of Isolation
I understand: there are times when getting out there, however that seems most doable, is just difficult. This article is a “start small” attempt to offer some ideas, but even on the best of days, it can seem like an ordeal to be proactive about my isolation. When I want to crawl back under the covers is usually the time when I ought not to! The paradox is that at the times when I feel most vulnerable, I’m also the most open. If you feel that vulnerability and urge to stay isolated, that’s the moment when change is nearest to you. Will you take that opportunity? It will keep offering itself until you do, and I hope you do. That’s the magic moment when everything could change.
Stuck? Let Us Help.
We all could use a little help now and then. It’s not possible to break out of isolation alone because when you do, you’re no longer isolated! Building confidence in your practice sometimes takes accountability and a fellow traveler. You can do this. And you’re not alone. If you want to work alongside us to help supercharge your process, please contact us here.