For a long time I've thought that contemporary trends can lead people down a very lonely path. It being the norm in this country to move away from home to go to university, then to move again to start building a career, people my age are so mobile that it can feel like you're shedding your friends annually.
That has been my experience. While I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had in my education and in the beginning of my working life, when I first moved away from home, I really think I had no idea how transient my life would become. Having studied languages at university and therefore spending a year abroad in the middle of my degree, now almost 24 years old, the longest I have lived at one address in the last 6 years is 12 months. I have not stayed in the same town for more than a year since 2009. My grandmother tells me she has a whole page in her address book reserved for me as she keeps having to cross out my address and put in a new one. I'm sure I'm not the only one with this experience, as young people we go where there is a promise of opportunity, and don't realise the price we're paying.
For an introvert like myself, this really does have an immense impact on life. I would say that it takes me more than a year to really get to know someone, so, while I have met some wonderful people in the last few years who I have a lot of affection for, I feel like I have always had to say goodbye too soon, curtailing promising friendships. Now living in Newcastle, the friends I made at university are scattered around the country; at weekends I have to choose between staying and nurturing the shoots of friendship here, or upping sticks to visit someone dear.
It can be very hard to make friends in a new place. Efforts at community (clubs/societies etc.) can sometimes feel forced and even intimidating for someone new, especially for those of us who are shy by nature. It's no wonder that the article mentions feelings of anxiety being elicited by loneliness - there's such pressure to be outgoing, to be having a great time. And it's no wonder that we're in the midst of a love affair with social media, if your circle of friends is more of a diaspora, the little messages coming through during the day can begin to feel like water in the desert! Even if friends' updates can add to that pressure to be getting along fine.
Even those who return to their home town after university can find themselves back in square one when it comes to forming a social circle, as many find that close friends have moved away or relationships have been weakened by the time spent apart.
I don't wish to sound dissatisfied with my life, but I write this because I suspect that my experience of frequent upheavals is not uncommon, and this is the sort of thing which really adds to a feeling of loneliness. It feels like perhaps friends for life is a thing of the past, and that is a huge loss.
I am very lucky to be getting married soon to my wonderful fiance, but even that entails a move, a change of job, and diving again into the uncertain, the unknown. Hopefully, marriage will bring more stability and support into my life, but not everyone has that fortune.