Where Do You Go When You’re Lonely?
Where do you go when you’re lonely? I’ve struggled with this my entire life. I often felt like an outsider looking in. Even though I have always had friends and family and people to hang out with, I struggle to feel like I belong.
Of course, when the Covid Pandemic hit, this feeling of loneliness intensified. I know it did for me and many others around the world. The news and experts kept telling people we had to “social distance” when in reality we needed to physically distance ourselves. I saw so many people in my life lock themselves away. I was sad because our studio was always a place where people can come and not feel lonely.
Now that things are opening up again, people are still struggling to feel like they belong. When we physically distanced from each other, we forgot that we still need connection and belonging. For many of us, we have forgotten how to be social. So here are some things to look for in order to not feel lonely.
Find a Place that Welcomes You With Open Arms
I’m sure we’ve all had those moments when we are in a crowd of people and we’ve still felt lonely. You are definitely not alone but the loneliness is still there. So join a group that will welcome you with open arms.
When I started teaching at Toronto Dance Salsa, I started a tradition of waiting by the entrance as students arrived and greeting them with a hug and “Hi, Happy Monday” (Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.). Because before they even walked in, I want them to feel that they were welcome.
We all want to feel like we belong to a tribe. So everyone – students from levels 1 through 6, those who thought they couldn’t dance, would enter smiling. It is very basic but a lot of people don’t put effort or energy into welcoming people
Welcoming is just the first step. I wanted to get to know my students individually as well. I felt lonely not because people didn’t agree with me, I felt lonely because people didn’t take the time to understand me, to see me.
It is too easy to isolate ourselves and then feel like no one understands. I had to learn that I had to be the one to initiate change. I have to find places where connection and belonging are built into the community.
And so, when our school closed down, and I started to do virtual classes for free, and so many other things, I started to feel like, “oh, I’m not alone” and, “oh, I’m not lonely” because I’m going out and I’m creating a space for other people like me who feel lonely and we can all connect.
Honest Validation with a Personal Touch
The last part of belonging for me that I needed most is validation. Not just “Hey Aleks, that’s a really good job” but recognized for the unique person that I am. I think deep down when we’re part of a tribe, we want to feel like the space that we take up has a use to the group. To feel that we are wanted and cared for.
When I teach Salsa or Bachata, or whatever else I’m teaching, I make sure to walk around and complement each person in a unique way, recognize them, recognize their effort. It can be something simple. “Hey David, I remember you were struggling with this last week earlier. Man I am so proud of how you are growing.” It is honest validation. It shows that I have been paying attention and I recognize them as an individual.
I believe that there is one less lonely person each time a student enters the studio. That’s my mission. I’d like to cure loneliness and so dance is a tool for that. When you start to dance, you are in a positive environment where people accept you and they cheer you on. You feel like you’re part of this massive tribe where you’re growing and connecting. You are also making friends and feeling loved and loving others.
Honestly, dance is a tool, just pick something that lights you up and has a community built-in. It could be rock climbing, taking pictures in nature with others, whatever you are passionate about. Find a place where you will feel like you belong.
If you live in the Toronto area and are feeling a little disconnected, a little lonely, then please join Toronto Dance Salsa. If you’re living in another city or in another country, the good news is there are dance classes all over the world. Find some and sign up. You will feel a little less lonely.
I can’t wait to welcome you to our big family, have you come in from week to week, have fun, socialize, and let loose to amazing Latin songs. Click here to check our current schedule.
If you have any questions you would like me to answer, here are some ways you can contact me: message me on Instagram (torontodancesalsa), on Twitter (#torontodancesalsa), on Facebook (Toronto Dance Salsa) or email me at [email protected]