Like many of you, the recent news of two larger than life celebrities who took their lives, rattled us. These are two people that from the outside, seemed to have it all. Their deaths are cruel reminders that no matter how happy and put together people seem on the outside, their stories can be much different.
With the ‘digital age’ that we live in today, it seems we have never been more connected. We can connect with each other at any time of day from almost anywhere in the world across multiple communication points (text, email, direct message, a smiley face emoji). If we are so connected then why are researchers warning that we are in the midst of a loneliness epidemic? Today, over 40% of adults in America report feeling lonely (up from 20% in 1980), and research suggests that the real number may well be higher.
A recent article in Psychology Today, cites multiple reasons as to why we are seeing such an epidemic today. Lack of face-to-face time, societal pressures, increase in technology, social media habits, all contribute. But the good news is that there are ways we can reconnect. In this same article they tell the story of a small village located on a remote hilltop in Sardinia. Its location is so unique and isolated that you have to rely on your neighbors, whether you want to or not. It’s a tight knit community. One that gathers together and connects. They have one of the lowest rates of loneliness in the world.
Meaningful connections are those that allow us to be our authentic selves. Where we can drop the facade of the instagram-worthy life and sit in each other’s pain. We can hold each other up with our story, the real, deep down story. Stories that are full of joy. Stories that are full of strength. Stories that are full of pain. These are the connections that count. Not the number of followers you have, or likes you get. But real, deep-down connection, that helps you know that you aren’t alone.
When I was an early teen, I really struggled with loneliness. I didn’t “look” like someone who would be lonely. I had tons of friends, I was a‘star athlete’, and definitely part of the ‘popular group’. I struggled to keep the facade of the happy girl who had it all. I will always remember the moment that my eighth grade math teacher, Mrs. Dean, walked up to me at school one day. She put her arm around, moved the hair from my eyes, and told me that she could see my pain and she told me“to be me” because I was beautiful, inside and out. That was it. I never had another conversation with her about it. But that moment, even 25 years later, was a moment that I felt a little less lonely. It was a connection she made that wasn’t part of the job description of a ‘junior high math teacher’ but one that made me feel less alone.
This is the basis of SisterUp. A place where you can feel supported. A place where you can feel empowered. A place where you can speak your real business dreams and be supported in your journey. A place where you can build connections. We want you to know you are needed in this world. Your voice, no matter how quiet or loud, is needed. You matter.
One of our favorite sayings is “If you don’t do you, you don’t get done, and the world misses out.”
You’ve got this Sister. We are cheering you on. You are not alone.