Loneliness is a feeling that nobody is on your side. The feeling that despite standing in a room full of people, your existence seems invisible.
In fact, loneliness has been referred to as a global epidemic by the WHO (World Health Organization) indicating it can be as bad for people’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. American psychiatrist Robert Waldinger says, “Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.” Waldinger leads the Harvard happiness study , the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted.
A great example is Lee Jian from the K-Drama “My Mister”. Jian’s disillusionment reflects her loneliness early on in the drama. Portrayed brilliantly by IU, Jian is a typical office outcast, minding her own business since her colleagues don’t really seem to notice her existence.
We can assume she’s experienced loneliness for a while. She’s been on her own caring for her deaf grandmother, her only living relative. Even at the young age of 21, she shows strong distrust in people to the extent that even when some people including Park Dong Hoon (male protagonist) made efforts in getting to know her, she missed the signs, rejecting them completely, unsure of how to interact. Jian’s demeanor throughout most of ‘My Mister’ may have been the epitome of loneliness.
Remember that loneliness is not necessarily experienced only by a person without friends or family or lack of community. Having the gift of companionship like friends, family or a significant other might seem like the opposite of loneliness, but we can be lonely even when surrounded by a sea of people who love us. Couples share they can feel lonely in their relationships when they feel their partner doesn’t understand how to support them. It also doesn’t matter whether you’re an introvert or extrovert. Extroverts indicate they can feel very lonely when they believe that nobody is on their side.
No one is immune to loneliness.