In 2019 I moved to Yorkshire from London for work, leaving behind my friends and everything I knew. Although we stayed in touch, living away from friends & family was difficult, I would barely see them and as time went on I found we stopped being as close. I no longer felt like I could call them up just for a chat or tell them about the small details of my day. I found myself feeling very lonely and isolated.
The timing for my move to Yorkshire wasn’t great. Covid hit and we were mid-pandemic. Then numerous lockdowns happened! For the first time ever I found myself alone, truly alone. I worked remotely and hadn’t met any of my new colleagues’ face to face. I had no friends to get in touch with locally. I had nobody to text to ask if they were free and I stopped looking forward to weekends as I knew I would be staying at home alone.
My mental health took a beating. My anxiety levels were off the scale and I couldnt focus. I feel a large cause of this was not having anyone to talk to. Not just on bad days but on good days either. I felt I had no real purpose.
Thankfully I did have my family for support, although they were far away. They became concerned about my lack of friends and social life and suggested I find a club to join or a hobby as they could see I was extremely lonely.
As lockdown lifted, I decided I couldn’t go on the way I was. I needed to do something about how lonely and disconnected from the world I felt. I searched online and found an app I liked the look of called ‘Meet Up’.
At first, I was extremely nervous about reaching out. How could I turn around to complete strangers and ask, ‘Will you be my friend please?’ However, I knew I had to do something. So, I decided to go to a local event at a coffee shop – which advertised itself as a perfect event for new members.
I was extremely nervous about turning up, feeling like I may be judged. But there was no judgement at all. Instead, I was greeted by lots of friendly and welcoming smiling faces. They had saved me a seat and all introduced themselves. Within ten minutes, I was chatting with a few of the group members as if I had known them ages.
There are a number of social apps and groups that you can become a part of. The best thing about them is that everyone is there because they are in the same position as you. People join because they have moved to a new area, have free time, work remotely or have gone through a breakup.
The social apps are nationwide and have a huge variety of people with different interests and backgrounds. Activities range from socialising, sports or walking to cultural activities. The group I joined is for my own age group and we do lots of activities, such as meals out, comedy nights, bowling etc. There’s a variety of things to do and you can just pick the events you fancy.
I have been to various events with the same group since I joined. I even hosted a New Years Eve party for them at my house. For me this was a noticeable turning point, a few months earlier if you had said I would be hosting a party I would have laughed, I didn’t know anyone in the area, let alone have a group of friends. My family have noticed the improvement in my confidence, my happiness and of course my social life. I can now look forward to the weekends. For the first time since moving to Yorkshire 3 years ago, I was receiving phone calls and texts asking if I’m free!
I am happy and thankful to be able to say that I no longer feel lonely and have made some good, lifelong friendships.
Unfortunately, I know now that my situation is surprisingly common. If you ever find yourself in a similar position please don’t feel you are alone. My advice would be to be brave and join a social club because I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and has changed my life!
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