An aim of Loneliness Connects Us was to explore, collect and share experiences of youth loneliness through youth co-research. Some of the deepest and most powerful insights emerged through the core group of youth co-researchers. We share some of these below.
Youth co-researcher testimony
WALKING IN THE DARK (INSPIRED BY SUMAIYA’S STORY)
A lot of bad things happened in my life when I was a child, when I was young. I can’t sleep at night and I am always tired so often I can’t get to places at the right time. I cope by walking about on my own late at night and I go to parks on my own. I am not usually lonely when I’m on my own. I feel lonely mostly when I am with other people. I often just prefer my own company. Why do we judge people for being alone? Is it better to be without friends and safe, or with friends and vulnerable? You may get to a boundary where the loneliness is beginning to affect your health and then a persistent negative train of thought is setting in. I have used a website where
I wrote and posted my own poems as a way of looking after myself. Creativity and poetry is a way to let out feelings; you can interact with the page even when you can’t interact with people.
BANTER. I call him a southern fairy. He calls me a northern monkey. We get on.
While talking about friendships and humour we inevitably discussed masculinities and banter. Banter was many negative things but could be more than this, at times joyous. But even then, the connections it made were often fragile and feelings hurt.
SHE LOVES ME! The stories of loneliness that young people shared were often entangled with feelings of shame and inferiority. These images relate the experiences of a young man who felt he didn’t belong and wouldn’t socialise because he didn’t have brand trainers like everyone else. His mother couldn’t afford to buy him expensive things but he loved her and he knew she loved him.
‘PARTY TONIGHT?’ We heard numerous accounts of how social media made lives more visible and in addition to pressures to perform being socially connected and successful that made lonely young people acutely aware and hypervigiliant of their social media channels.