My name is Marissa and I’m a graphic designer in Toronto, Canada. A few months ago, I started collecting stories from people about their real experiences with loneliness. I started small, asking my immediate network to share with their friends/family. I had no idea if I’d even get any stories back but was completely flooded submissions from people of all ages and from all over the world (seriously! All the way from the Arctic to Australia).
I’ve now collected close to 1000 stories, and publish new ones every week to The Loneliness Project (thelonelinessproject.org).
We don’t talk about loneliness, but these stories show just how universal and human it is. By creating space for conversations about loneliness we can combat isolation and cultivate compassion – for others and for ourselves.
The storytellers showcased here will likely never meet, but in discussing their loneliness these individuals have become part of an online community of people who are not as alone as they think.
Visitors click into apartments to read different stories.
“Loneliness is the feeling you get when you realize you do like other people.”
“I realized how badly I crave family life, and miss my family who lives all the way in Brazil. I felt lonely because there is always a dissonance to what I am experiencing. I never lived in big Canadian houses growing up. They look like the movies.”
“My evening walk with the dog takes my soul every year for curtains are open into living rooms full of families and friends, I can hear them, sometimes smell their turkey dinners, but most of all I feel all their happiness knowing I will never have it.”
“I think my grandpa passing was a very lonely time for me, as well as my most recent move. Everything was so stressful, my childhood house was getting renovated, and I had to let go of a lot of things. I think being in the process of moving and also in the process of renovation was really hard for me. My childhood was literally disappearing before my eyes. – Anonymous, age 15
“More than anything loneliness for me is about feeling alone in a crowd; a certain kind of sadness with not finding my tribe; an inability to relate to the popular values presented in mainstream media in North America; not being able to find a place of comfort and safety outside of my own home; a disappointment and disconnect with the mainstream ways of the world.”
“When you leave that faith you get cut off from everyone in it. I knew what would come and I couldn’t bear to say goodbye.”
“I read the Harry Potter series eight times at the end of elementary school and the beginning of middle school, because I didn’t have any friends and the characters is those books were the only things that made me feel less alone.” – Alexandra, age 19
“She asked how I was and I admitted to my bewilderment with the health and behavioral problems with my little girl. She looked at me smugly, knowingly, and suggested that if I would stay at home and give my daughter the time and attention she clearly needed, perhaps this wouldn’t be a problem for me any longer.”
“I had to wait 45 minutes after class had ended for my mom to come pick me up. I sat there, while my teacher just typed away at her computer…I just wanted to be like all the other kids in my class.”
“I can find no one who knows what it is to survive war and ambushes, who was boots on the ground with me, who understands all the associated burdens of survival and what obligations and duties arise for survivors.” – PB, age 50
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