Loneliness is a feeling that most people experience at some point in their lives. In the year of 2000, a solid 25 percent of people were living alone in the United States (Olds & Schwartz, 2009). Although I am unsure about the actual percentage of people living alone in 2018, I must admit that I am part of that 25 percent. But how this affects me? What is the role of loneliness in my life and how can I deal with it? These are questions that I try to answer as I reflect on the time that I spend interacting with others, and the time I spend home alone.
For me, it is important to understand where I come from and my lifestyle prior to my experience with loneliness. I was raised in a small community where the word “lonely” was used in the context when relatives or people I interacted with were not around. Otherwise, I always had someone to talk and do things together. At that point in my life, I could choose if I wanted to be alone or not. For the most part, I would always be around my siblings, parents, uncles, cousins, friends, or even neighbors. I could go anywhere in town at any time of the day and find someone to spend time with. I enjoyed talking to people and learning things such as life values, skills, and traditional stuff from these interactions. Although I was too young to see and understand that, my brain was capturing that information like if it was saving it for later when I could understand it. As a result, I had that sense of belonging and connection with my family and community. However, all that changed when I came to the United States.
I immigrated to the United States when I was 15 years of age. My purpose was to go after opportunities for better quality of life. I was born in California which allowed me to come to the U.S. without difficulties. Once in the U.S., I lived for two years with my paternal uncles in California where the environment was almost like the place where I was raised. Even when the lifestyle and community were different, I still had that comfort provided by having my relatives’ company. I was also enrolled in high school where I made so many friends that I could spend time with. At this point, I had I had not yet experienced being lonely; no just yet. However, I could feel the impact of letting do my traditional norms and lifestyle once in the U.S. The real problem began when I move to Washington State where I have been residing since the summer of 2008.
Relocating to Washington State was a spontaneous decision. My sister and her three children were the only relatives that lived here and up to date, the only people that I can really connect with. When I am not around them, I am either working, at school, or home alone. They have their routine which limits the time I see them to a few hours once or twice a month. Although we spend most holidays together, that does not seem to be enough because once I go to my house, I feel lonely. Looking back, I have lost that sense of connection with other relatives and the community. As a result, sometimes I struggle to express my emotions and a simple interaction with others seems to be very complicated, to a point that I feel awkward. I wish I could stop feeling that way. Although it is complicated because I do not feel a strong sense of belonging and connecting to the community.
Being in the Social Work field helps to alleviate some of my feelings resulting from being lonely which run from periods of depression, anxiety, and sadness. Working as a case manager and support staff has allowed me to see that I am not the only one that feels that way. I have met several people who come to services for depression and anxiety. Same as me, their problems resulted from living alone. There is research that suggests a connection between loneliness and these previous conditions among people not just in adulthood and elderly, but also in teenage years. According to Ebesutani (2015) there is a significant relationship among loneliness, anxiety, depression, and negative affect. Their study focuses in children (Grades 2-6) and adolescent (Grades 7-12) school-based youth. This means that loneliness is a factor that leads people to feel anxiety and depression at some point in their lives. In my case, I never thought that loneliness could make me feel the way I do. Now, I realized that I do not have the power of choosing whether if I want to be alone or not anymore, and I must deal with loneliness. For the past 10 years, I feel like I have been riding this roller-coaster of emotions that seems to stabilize when I am around people that makes me feel comfortable and I feel a connection with. It is with them that I forget about depression, anxiety, and stress. Thanks to them, I do not feel the need to go back home nor even afraid to go out. It is important to me to feel that connection that gives me the sense of belonging. However, the nature of my routine limits the time to develop this true connection with my community and other people I interact with.
Going back to the role of loneliness in my life and how it affects me, I would say that it has shaped me in the way that I interact with people. For good, it has challenged me to step out of my comfort zone to create new friendships and connections. At the same time, being alone for too long has limited my skills at socializing and connecting with others. It also brought the problems that I mentioned earlier in this text. It has previously been said by many people that humans are high sociable creatures. It is through my own experience that I am understanding that concept and feel the need to have a sense of belonging and connect with the community.

My name is Jose Gerardo, I identify as a straight Hispanic male. I use him/he pronouns. I am a student, currently enrolled in the Masters’ of Social Welfare program (Mental Health Concentration) at the University of Washington. I was born in California, and was raise in a small town in Guanajuato Mexico. On my 15th birthday, my parents brought me to the United States where I have been residing fr the last 12 years- 10 of those in Washington. I am going thorough the last year of my program. I plan and hope to develop a career in the mental health care field in collaboration with other professionals that serve the community.