DEALING WITH LONELINESS: THE LONELINESS CHRONICLES

Human connection is an essential need for survival. We will always crave a sense of belonging, and, because of this, when we cannot satisfy this need, a feeling of loneliness is inevitable.

Now, I hate to be a cliche, but a time where I felt the most alone was when my three-year relationship came to an end. My ex-partner was a kind person, but we weren’t good for each other. At that point in my life, any spare time I had was dedicated to my significant other, which meant that I neglected my relationships with friends, family, and myself. When we broke up, I had to face a harsh reality that I didn’t have much of a life beyond our relationship. So for the first time, in a long time, I was alone — and I was lonely.

I’ll spare you the details of a very long sob story, but going through this specific season of loneliness left me with a lot of life lessons that I feel compelled to share with my fellow vinas. Here’s what did and didn’t work for me:

WHAT DIDN’T HELP:

  1. Isolating Myself – Yeah, this one seems obvious, haha. If you’re feeling alone, isolation would be counterproductive. When I was feeling lonely, I thought my best bet was to “tough it out,” but this only validated the fear that I was alone and didn’t deserve love.
  2. Meaningless Hookups – I am all for recreational sex with whoever, whenever. What I don’t recommend is seeking physical relationships to fill the void caused by loneliness. This was my go-to M.O. every time I was craving intimacy, but temporary solutions don’t fix long-term problems. When I sought out partners for this purpose, I was always left feeling emptier than before.
  3. Alcohol – I went on a three-month-long bender of going out to the bars and clubs at any given opportunity. Translation, I was filling the void yet again, but this time with too much alcohol. Your objective of a fun evening out shouldn’t be to drink until you don’t feel anything anymore.

WHAT DOES HELP:

  1. Reaching Out – Initially, it was really hard to reach out to my loved ones. I felt that because I neglected our friendships that it would be insulting to try and lean on them for support. I’m glad that I didn’t listen to that voice for long because I would have missed out on some really great moments with my friends. These people provided me with the reassurance I needed the get out of the dark place I was in. In the long run, reconnecting with those I cared about has taught me to be a much better friend in return.
  2. Creating New Relationships – Alongside the rebuilding of my current relationships, I also made it a point to try and meet new people. It was extremely daunting to put myself out there, but it was a necessary step to self-healing. Also, shameless app plug, but that’s actually how I stumbled upon Hey! VINA! Nothing brings two vinas together more than a broken heart.
  3. Doing Things I Loved & Trying Out New Things – In my relationship, I neglected a lot of my personal hobbies that used to bring me a lot of joy. Now that I had more time for myself, I decided to pick them back up. I got back into reading, attending story slams, and traveling. It also gave me a chance to try out things that always wanted to do painting (I wasn’t very good at it). Filling up my calendar with things to do meant I didn’t have much time to dwell upon the loneliness. Which brings me to my next item:
  4. Being Kind to Myself – A lot of the loneliness I was feeling was fueled by negative self-talk, which is why it was unsettling to be by myself. I had to learn to change the narrative and replace my harsh words with affirming ones. This isn’t easy for anyone, but sentences like, “I am deserving of love” or “I have an amazing support system that cares for me” made all the difference.
  5. Embracing Solitude – Not to be confused with isolation, but it’s important to solidify your relationship with yourself. How you go about it will be different for everyone. For me, sometimes it meant taking days off to sit in bed and read or dedicate a day to pampering myself. Time to time, I’d make plans to travel and explore new cities with me, myself, and I. This opportunity for quietness, peace, and self-reflection lead to such clarity and self-growth. After all, being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely.

Unfortunately, loneliness doesn’t have an expiration date. You might have many periods of loneliness in your lifetime, but I hope that this list gives you some insight on how to tackle it. Just remember vinas, you may feel lonely, but you’re never alone.

Don’t be afraid to reach out and make new friends. Download the Hey! VINA app today to do so!

HOW TO HANDLE BEING THE STRONG FRIEND WHEN YOU NEED SOMEONE TO LEAN ON

On December 23, 2003—five days after my 24th birthday, two days shy of Christmas and six days before my older brothers’ 26th birthday—my mother passed away quietly in our home after a long bought with cancer.  She was my best friend, confidant and a real-life version of Martha Stewart. I was devasted, broken and silent. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t even move. 2004 is still a blur to me.

What I didn’t realize then was that, in time, my wounds would heal. I would learn to smile again and maybe even look on this day and be at peace with it. Better still, my pain might help someone else get through theirs—and in the years following, it certainly proved to do so.

But what happens when it’s you that needs a shoulder to cry on? Sure, history has proven that you can weather the storm and recover, but being strong all the time is exhausting. At least I know it’s been for me. My girlfriends are great people with huge hearts, but sometimes I feel like life has been much kinder to them and they can’t really understand what I’m going through. I’ve always been the “big sister” with weighty advice and reflective suggestions, but now I needed someone to be that for me. What was I to do?

I decided to take a walk. I walked near a park, around my block and to my favorite coffee house close by. I didn’t go in, though. I sat on a bench outside and soon smelled the comforting aromas of freshly brewed coffee and warm baked goods. I started watching the people come and go around me and wondered where they were going. Who were they going home to? What kind of life did they live? Then it hit me—everyone has gone through something and has a story. Mine was no different and no more important. Sure, maybe I had more loss in my life, but my friends loved and cared about me enough to support me when I was having a rough time. Not everyone has that blessing.

Maybe instead of assuming the worst, take a chance and reach out to your friends and loved ones. Explain to them what you’re going through—they are your friends and family for a reason, after all. Call it a leap of faith, but I’ve found people can surprise you in the most incredible ways. If you’re still concerned, take your trusty dusty pen and write it down.

Next time you’re concerned that your friends may not understand, try one of these actions first:

  1. Take a walk to reflect on the many blessings in your life.
  2. Sit still and breathe deeply—sometimes slowing down is what you really need.
  3. Write it down—seeing the words on the page can be truly healing.

My father always tells us that there is wisdom in all things, and for everything under the sun, there is a time and a season. Everyone goes through hard times and needs a caring shoulder to cry on. Trust the people in your life. It makes all the difference!

Need other strong vinas in your life to be there for you? Start swiping on the Hey! VINA app today. 

REVEALED: HOW IT REALLY FEELS TO BE BESTIE-LESS

It can be a lonely world without a lead vina in your life. I’ve always cringed at the overused word “bestie,” possibly because it insinuates ownership, you know, proudly wearing a badge displaying the words “she’s mine.” But deep down, it reminds me of the fact that I am essentially bestie-less. And this is not for a lack of trying. I often reminisce about drifted-apart close friendships of yesteryear. The ones formed at school and university, but fade in time leaving behind nothing more than fun memories and miles of distance and opinions wedged between us.

In junior high, our teacher affectionately named me and my then best friend “bookends” as we were inseparable since we were toddlers. That is, of course, up until her family uprooted halfway across the country. And though we wrote many long, sweet letters to each other in earnest for a while after, that sentiment soon faded as she settled into her new neighborhood. To this day I still post birthday and Christmas cards in the nostalgic hope of rekindling our childhood friendship, though this has yet to happen. A few years later in high school during those fateful mid-teens, I had a new found “best” friend who ended up turning to a group of more outgoing gals. In hindsight it was our different personalities that really drew us apart, but at the time, it was just as great a loss as any other friendship.

two female standing near building structure

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Then there were a few close university friends who became distant acquaintances with little in common after graduation. To be fair, I’d never been a big party animal, so I was really out of my comfort zone. I’m more of a movie night in and a hike through nature kind of gal. My university gal pals went from being close-knit study sisters to unrecognizable strangers in the time it takes to get a degree. Suddenly, there was a gulf between us, not just literally in physical location, but in our interests too.

So now in my 30s, there’s a gaping hole where a vina who feels that I could be the yin to her yang should be. But how does it really feel to be bestieless? Here’s what I miss the most.

THE LOYALTY

I have a yearning for that kindred-spirit type of loyalty that drives each vina to better themselves and to go on to achieve their respective and mutual goals. Without a bestie, feeling a sense of genuine loyalty from any friend can be quite difficult, as you know that they may prioritize another vina at any point. In the back of your mind, as just a friend, you’ll always be hesitant to really trust them as a bestie. And no one wants to be a back-burner friend. Every vina wants to feel like she’s the leading lady in her favorite vina’s life.

THE FEMALE CLOSENESS

I’d love to have that bestie-like closeness; the one that gals gush adoringly about feeling like their favorite vina is really a sister, a part of their soul family. It’s the kind of closeness that makes you feel like you could spend hours talking about anything and everything that matters to you both. And that they care about what you’re saying, and they know you care too. It’s that safe, loving place like home. That lack of closeness creates a void in female friendship that only a bestie can fill.

THAT CALL/TEXT/EMAIL/LETTER

Oh, how I’d love to be able to send that spontaneous text (or go old school with an email or handwritten letter) to my one special vina, asking how her day is, seeing if she’s free for coffee, or just sharing a funny meme that I know will make her laugh. Having that one person you can call at any hour of the day or night, to say anything or nothing at all is so monumental.We don’t realize how important the little things are until we have no one to share those moments with.

THE OPINION YOU CAN TRUST

It’s the hardest when you need someone who will tell it to you straight, who knows how to tell you the truth without hurting your feelings or coming across as arrogant. When you want that one female opinion you know you can trust to be honest, open, and come from a place of love, respect, and care. Just that.

photo of people wearing sweater

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

THE HIGHS (AND LOWS)

I miss having that one vina you really want to share the highs with, and a comforting hand to hold through the lows. Someone who will be by your side as you’ve made a mutual commitment to being besties. Someone who has seen you at your worst, and still chooses to be there for you, holding the umbrella through the storm. Someone who acknowledges your achievements and hypes you up to remind you just how incredible you are. You have mutual understanding based on your history and look forward to future adventures together. A bestie is someone like that.

THE THOUGHTFUL SURPRISES 

You know the ones. That thoughtful midday “how are ya?” message. That pick me up, feel good friendship tag on a Facebook meme. That caring card or gift on your birthday that reminds you your vina is there. Missing out on these little opportunities to be thoughtful and spread kindness is a low like no other.

So there you have it. The things I miss most about having a bestie. Hopefully she’s out there somewhere, possibly reading this. I do believe there’s a bestie out there for everyone, but for those of us who haven’t found ours yet, we really need to end the stigma that comes along with not having a bestie. It doesn’t undervalue your worth as a genuine, giving, and thoughtful human being. You just haven’t met the right gal to share those qualities with. Being bestieless is not an easy confession to make, but I’m sure there are many loyal ladies in the exact same place, here in the Hey! VINA community! Look no further, future besties. Your vina is out there.

Have you been looking for your vina? We gotcha, babe! Download Hey! VINA and start swiping!!🥂

I HAVE A S.O. AND FRIENDS … WHY AM I STILL SO LONELY?

Loneliness is a bigger killer than obesity. Think about that for a second. More people die because of illnesses related to loneliness than obesity. That probably comes as a shock, especially if you consider the fact that we are living in a world that is more connected than ever before. But it is the kind of connection that matters. There is a big difference between having a virtual connection and having an actual human connection. We have reached a point where the average individual has more friends on Facebook, and more followers on Instagram and Twitter than ever before. But how many of those “friends” are actually your friends? With the ability to connect with pretty much anyone on the planet, why is it still so hard for us to make that deeper connection? Why do we engage in the virtual world but withdraw from the physical world?

It has become clear that loneliness does not come from a lack of humans around us, but rather a lack of quality interaction with those humans. And it turns out, it may be partly due to the global trend of people rejecting this interaction to “stay in and chill.” What this basically boils down to is that we are voluntarily becoming lonely! Psychology Today points to some possible reasons why such as depression, avoidance, anger, burnout, and reflection and re-centering. Let’s unpack.

DEPRESSION

The first possible cause of this disconnection and loneliness you feel is depression. If you tell yourself something enough times, your subconscious will eventually become convinced and accept it as a fact. The world has gone from mental illness being a complete taboo, to being high-fashion. We treat these illnesses as something we can self-diagnose, but the more you dwell on that initial feeling of sadness or loneliness, the more likely you are to actually become depressed.

AVOIDANCE

Another possible explanation is being in a state of avoidance. The more you avoid people, the more people will avoid you. And the more comfortable you become avoiding people, the easier it will be to avoid the issues that caused this cycle in the first place. We are so used to chatting online that it makes having a conversation in real life seem like torture. It’s almost like we are losing the basic ability to interact with each other. We put in our headphones, use self checkout lanes at the grocery store, order things online, choose a seat that is farthest from anyone else in the room, and abandon a fundamental part of our human nature: human connection. I for one, would much rather engage in a group chat than actually go out and talk to those same people in person. And it’s become so easy too. Staying home alone has almost become a preference for us as a society, and the funny thing is, we endorse it. #Homealone has 1.7 million posts on Instagram, #alone has 16.1 million posts, and #withmyfriends has a minuscule 279k posts.

anthony-tran-679123-unsplash.jpg

ANGER

You may be angry. People will often times give you advice to “just ignore it,” but in reality, most of us have a pretty hard time ignoring something that truly upsets us. That is why when you search Google for “how to let it go,” 2.9 billion hits come up.  Everyone has something they’re dealing with, and letting it go is simply not as easy as “just ignore it.”  If you can vocalize it, do it in a healthy way.  Holding on to anger evolves into much bigger issues.

BURNOUT

Let’s face it, we are a tired species. Most of us are on the clock from the moment we wake up whether that means getting your kids to school, heading to your 8am Psychology class, finishing up that big project your boss is waiting on, or simply carrying out day to day tasks in the upkeep of your overall life. We are always busy, which kind of means we are always tired. Our minds are constantly working, and when we get to that point where we feel completely spent, the last thing we want to do is entertain people, hang out, or even be entertained. This leads to choosing to be #homealone, and eventually being lonely rather than making the effort to find those connections that will give us a sense of community and fulfillment.

REFLECTION AND RE-CENTERING

This step comes at a time when we begin to renew ourselves and possibly change perspectives. A time when we take a good hard look at our current state of mind, and make the necessary changes according to what is right for our own well-being. During this time we may start to feel disconnected from what used to feel familiar, or what should feel familiar. A lot of the time we look inward for answers, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can represent a turning point of inner growth. We just have to understand that we cannot stay in that place forever. In order to truly continue to grow, we have to look outside of ourselves and our own perspectives, and engage in the world around us. And yes, that means the people around us too!

roberto-delgado-webb-724954-unsplash.jpg

If you think about it, it is easier to remain broken than it is to be renewed. Someone who is broken doesn’t have to put the energy into living up to a certain standard, when the only standard they hold for themselves is survival. Much like a broken toy, they welcome rust and obey deterioration, and nobody really expects anything more from them anyway. So why would they want to change? Remember your worth and the importance of sharing it with others. You never know who might need that connection just as much as you do.

Is this the story of your life? Download Hey! VINA now to break the vicious cycle and reconnect with the real world. We are on a mission to put an end to loneliness. Swipe, join communities and make plans–it just starts with one match!

 

9 WAYS TO CURE LONELINESS

If you already read VINA’s CEO Olivia June’s important PSA today on VINAZINE, you know that we’re taking loneliness seriously here. And we all should—a recent study reported that only half of Americans found that they had meaningful in-person interactions. The takeaway? If you’re feeling lonely, you’re not alone.

Luckily, there are things you can do today to start curing your loneliness. Read on for our top 9 tips!

1. MAKE NEW VINAS

Hey! VINA was launched in 2016 with the mission to help users find their tribe. Once you create your profile, join different communities (as many as you like!) to find vinas who are going through similar life events as you, or vinas you share the same hobbies with. (Happy Hour, anyone?!). From there, start swiping and start meeting! Once you make a match, try to plan a vina date immediately—at the coffee shop, at the gym, wherever. The point is, you’ve got plans…and tons of other vinas waiting to hang with you!

2. JOIN A SPORTS LEAGUE (OR PAINTING CLASS, YOGA, ETC.)

Whether your athletic (or not), there are tons of different leagues that fit your lifestyle. From casual kickball to even board game leagues, you may find one you like. Just going to one event can mean you meet one more friend, so that’s a win-win. If you want to jumpstart, join the athletes or runners community on Hey! VINA and ask around for a local sports league or local runners club. If sports aren’t your thing, try a local pottery class or even a women’s wine night. Find communities that match your needs on VINA and go from there!

3. FIND OUT WHAT YOU NEED

What if you already have friends, but still feel alone? Loneliness also occurs when your current relationships are not meeting your needs, so finding out what these needs are may help you on your journey. Set some time with yourself for self-reflection and make a list of what types of friends or company you are looking for. Then, start building that!

4. BE PRODUCTIVE 

Read a book, go on a walk or start a new hobby. There are so many ways to feel connected with the world and with others in it. Doing errands or shopping at the mall can help you to direct your attention away from your loneliness and connect with the world around you. Say hi to someone, or engage in a conversation to the person standing next to you at Barre. It starts with just one word. You got this, vina!

5. SPEND TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY (OR FRIENDS WHO ARE LIKE FAMILY)

Hanging out with family when you’re down is sometimes the perfect cure for loneliness. Suggest a family game night or going to see a movie. Or pick up the phone and call someone—your grandma, your cousin, your mom. Better yet, make it a weekly thing!

elevate-755075-unsplash.jpg

6. WRITE IT OUT

You need to connect with yourself to fully realize why your loneliness is setting in. Writing about how you feel in a journal can be very helpful for figuring out why you feel a certain way. Start by writing a letter to yourself or even just writing a line a day. Putting your emotions on your paper is one of the best things you can do for yourself, vina.

7. LOOK INTO IT

Look at your relationships, your career, your social calendar, and your overall emotions and find out what could be making you feel alone. It may be difficult, but it’s the only way to move onto the next step. 

8. LOVE YOURSELF

Remember you’re your own best vina. By practicing self-love, you can learn to enjoy your own company. Start every morning with a mantra (Something like, “I’m strong, I’m capable of big things, I’m lovable” or just list out loud three things you like about yourself every day. Trust us, it helps.

9. BE CONFIDENT

You’re a strong, beautiful vina and having confidence in yourself is critical! If you are scared to reach out to new people, try it! If something is wrong in a relationship, work it out! If you are nervous to talk to people, open up! Having confidence in who you are and what you want will only help you break out of your loneliness.

In the end, becoming a better “you” can help in all aspects of life, including attracting great new vinas. No matter what, us vinas are here for you!

The best way to combat loneliness is to find others to connect to. Try out Hey! VINA today!

 

 

 

READING THIS COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE: MY PERSONAL BATTLE AGAINST THE BIGGEST HEALTH EPIDEMIC OF OUR ERA

Basic. Done. Salty. Extra. According to one of those trending lists floating around the internet, those are some of the biggest “buzzwords” of 2018. I’m all for new words to help define our lives, but there’s a word we’ve been hearing a lot more, but we’ve been afraid to really talk about… the L word. Loneliness. 😳 I have to admit, I’ve even avoided the word over the years I’ve been building Hey! VINA, the #1 women’s friendship app. It feels shameful. It feels scary. It makes us think of some freak doesn’t have friends because they’re weird and unlikable, even Cardi B called it out when she reviewed the app. But that thought couldn’t be more wrong. It turns out that most of us are lonely these days.

Loneliness has been named the #1 health crisis in the United States. Just this May, a new nationwide survey of 20,000 adults from health insurer Cigna found that “most Americans are considered lonely.” Fifty-four percent of respondents said they sometimes or always feel that no one knows them very well. And two-fifths reported a lack of meaningful relationships and companionship; saying they are “isolated from others.” Most shocking of all? The survey revealed that Gen Z reports feeling lonelier than all older generations.

Former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, called loneliness the #1 health epidemic, noting that “the reduction in life span [for loneliness] is similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and it’s greater than the impact on life span of obesity.”

With loneliness being linked to a higher risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes (not to mention cancer and depression), public health leaders and other officials around the world have started to take note: In January, Britain appointed its first “minister for loneliness,” Tracey Crouch. Her job is to do exactly what you’d imagine: help confront this problem that Prime Minister Theresa May referred to as “the sad reality of modern life.” While Tracey is optimistic about her task ahead—”I could be the minister for happiness, because that’s exactly what I’m trying to achieve,” she said in a recent interview. You and me both, Tracey, and we definitely have our work cut out for us.

Here’s a major and important fact though. Lonely is not an identity. It’s a feeling of being deprived of a basic human need, connecting with other humans. So, like feeling hungry thirsty, or tired, food, water, sleep, and human connection, are our basic needs as people. When you’re hungry, you eat something, when you’re thirsty, you drink water, when you’re tired, you take a nap, and when you’re lonely, you need to spend time with friends. Needing to meet new people and to connect deeply with them is no more shameful than having an empty fridge.

I’m 32 years old, and I’ve literally spent half of my lifetime thinking about how the internet (a.k.a. modern life) brings us together and isolates us at the same time. It’s alarming, how even though we can have everything we need at our fingertips, from going live on Instagram within seconds to ordering your favorite scented candle for 1-hour delivery, we are still missing something.

What’s missing is making it easy to find those real human connections and meet-up offline something that isn’t quite the same experience as chatting with people online. For me, I’ve met some truly amazing people thanks to online networks, from my first Friendster friend in 2002,  MySpace friends in 2004, Facebook friends in 2005, Twitter friends in 2009, and hey to all my vinas out there that I’ve been since we started our concept in 2016, but the key has always been to take those new connections offline.

There aren’t a lot of apps that help you actually get offline and meet new people. In 2015, I got started building Hey! VINA, the friend-finding app for women that aims and succeeds in doing just that: making our social lives better… in turn making our whole lives better (and longer!).

I spend every single day, all day, working on building a network, a business, even a lifestyle, focused on GENUINELY connecting people and getting us to discover and connect with the community around us—OFFLINE.

For me, it’s a personal matter. My heart literally aches when I hear about another life lost to depression, suicide, and loneliness. When I was 10 years old, I lost my older sister to suicide, and it radically changed my life. I know too well that behind anyone’s profile pic, many are quietly suffering, quietly persevering. Nobody is good all of the time, and we all have our battles.

In an age of overwhelming and incessant bad news, isolation, and loneliness, we need to prioritize connecting, vulnerably, truthfully, and authentically share our real selves. We need to see and accept each other without judgement for just being human.

Maria Dolores Cimini, Ph.D., the director of University at Albany’s Center for Behavioral Health Promotion and Applied Research, agrees. “To reduce suicide risk, one of the biggest factors that can help is to engage and connect with people and activities,” she tells VINA. “It could be certainly making new friends and connecting with new, interesting friends.”

Through her research, Dr. Cimini sees firsthand the positive effects that strong connections and friendships can have on a person’s personal happiness. “Having relationships by and large is something that’s very helpful,” she explains. “Relationships where people build each other up, support each other, connect with each other, and help build each other’s strengths.”

matias-rengel-526478-unsplash.jpg

Being a human is really hard. The only way we can make it easier is to selflessly help each other. My hope and personal mission is that VINA can provide the tool and the network of awesome people you need to find and build your tribe. To find those meaningful friendships and connections that create real-life laughs (not the emoji face kind, the real laugh-so-hard-can’t-breathe-and-your-eyes-are-watering kind).

That’s why I’m so thrilled to be introducing new features on Hey! VINA today. First, you’ll find a Plans tab in the app, so you can make immediate offline plans with your match, or bring together all your vinas (and maybe mix in your other friends too!) and have something to do this weekend, or after work, or my personal favorite, before work breakfast or workout seshes. Also, we’re launching 15 more communities, where you can find other friends who are “Gamer Girls” or are going through some life struggles like fighting cancer, or like me, a newly divorced vina, who’s looking to meet other vinas who have been through that really difficult journey out of marriage. As a woman, these hobbies, lifestages, and experiences shape us, and our best lives mean we’re all in this together and stronger together—and it’s important we don’t forget that.

I hope when you pull up Hey! VINA, join communities that speak to your soul and start swiping right, you’re swiping right on more than just the hope for a new friendship. Swipe right on living life, swipe right on smiling more, swipe right on feeling heard, swipe right on surviving this adventure we call life. It’s all about growing, trying new things, and putting ourselves out there. Wanting to live better than yesterday. So, let’s swipe right on our futures.

You deserve it. We all do.