When I founded Populus, the biggest thing stopping me from targeting this incredibly important issue was the worry that it would only increase the stigma around loneliness. That it would be clubbed as an organisation that is only for lonely people, that by going to events you were admitting you were lonely.
It took a while, and there were a few comments and jeers that Populus was only suitable for people with no friends, but if I manage to help but one person with my idea, then I’ve done my job.
Everyday many of us wake up and check our various social media accounts, to see our friends, relatives, or that embarrassing crush posting the latest achievement they’re celebrating. And herein lies the problem – all we see is the positive side of people’s lives, which is totally understandable, because who wants to show the world anything but their happiness and passions? But we create this picture of people’s lives that everything is perfect, that they have no problems or worries.
And we are so wrong! Facebook doesn’t notify us when someone is lonely, and neither does the person, no one explicitly comes out and says it. Even now, when I tell strangers and relatives about the work I’m doing, I cringe at the word lonely because it infers that I am lonely, that I’m struggling.
In my opinion (here comes Milly Tant again, a fond nickname given to me by my parents whenever I starting ranting) we are all a bit bloody hard on ourselves. First years think they shouldn’t be lonely because they are at University, with thousands of similar aged people and loads of events to go to. Fourth years think they shouldn’t be lonely because they’ve been at University for as long as is socially acceptable to have made good friends and good memories.
Truth is, we all want friends – people to share experiences with, to stand in line with, to have a good time with. And another truth – we all deserve this. No matter what year we are in, there is no age where people stop feeling lonely and want companionship.
So, as Graham said, “Let’s make loneliness lonely.”
You come to Populus for a good time, with old friends or new ones. Even if you don’t like the events we hold, you can use Populus to find someone to go to that ball or that rugby game with.
Life is for living in happiness, and sometimes that comes from being with other people and sometimes it comes from being alone. Don’t like being alone? Come to Populus.
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