This column was originally posted on MariaShriver.com last year. I’m re-posting it since it’s been a year since I adopted CC.
During the past year, I have been hit with a feeling I was previously unfamiliar with: loneliness. I have no doubt that I’ve been legitimately lonely in the past; it’s just that up until last year, I had a busy career in politics. So, even if I was truly lonely, I was surrounded by so many people and so many activities that their noise gave me the illusion that I wasn’t lonely.
After leaving the political world, I transitioned into working as a writer. My new career choice was exciting and fulfilling, but one that essentially eliminated all that noise that was in my life before. As a writer, I appreciate the self-reflection part that comes with being more solitary; it is helpful for my craft and is cathartic for me. However, I found that I began dreading the evenings. I used to love nighttime: being quiet, listening to music, reading. But now, I couldn’t wait for the morning, which meant there would be some “noise.”
Four months ago, my feelings of loneliness became almost unbearable, but I suspected that my loneliness wasn’t actually about being alone. I had no lack of friends with whom to surround myself. I could have filled my schedule with social activities to mitigate what felt like an empty space in my life, but even when I was with my closest friends, I still felt a deep sense of loneliness.