Overcoming Loneliness: How To Develop a Flesh-And-Blood Support Group

lonelinessMy friend leaned across the table. In a low voice she said, “I could never work from home like you do. I’d miss being around people too much.”

Actually, she has a valid point. At one time or another, most freelancers do face the problem of loneliness.

While it is great having virtual friends and colleagues from all walks of life and all over the world, there comes a time when most of us want to be around real people.

Loneliness might happen during a work-related crisis, a family-related crisis, or a personal crisis. Or, it might just be the consequence of spending too much time in front of your computer. Whatever the cause, that virtual contact just won’t do. You need a flesh and blood support group.

I’m fortunate in that I have several good friends that I can meet for lunch about once a month. So, I don’t really feel as isolated as I could feel. I can say this though, it’s a real treat for me to get out of the office and get face to face with another person. My local friends serve as sort of a support group for me and I appreciate their willingness to listen.

Since many freelancers work from home, we don’t often get the opportunity to make friends locally. Consequently, some of us don’t have a flesh and blood support group.

That’s where this post comes in handy.

8 Tips For Developing a Local Support Group

Here are eight tips for meeting people, developing friendships locally, and overcoming the loneliness of working from home.

  1. Keep in touch with former contacts. Stay in touch with former classmates and coworkers. Although you no longer see each other on a daily basis, these individuals can become the basis of your local support group (especially if they still live in the area).
  2. Join a professional society. Everyone knows that professional societies are a great way to make business contacts, but they also provide a great foundation for friendships. After all, you already have something in common with the other members.
  3. Take a class. Continuing your education can build your skill set. Taking a class can also get you out of the office and into an environment with other people. Check with your local college to see if they offer any non-degree courses for working adults.
  4. Go to a meetup. Some social networking sites are now offering participants who met online the opportunity to meet offline. Usually, meetups are regionally based and some of them meet quite often. Why not get to know your virtual colleagues a little better?
  5. Attend a convention or trade show. Conventions and tradeshows offer another opportunity for people who met virtually to get to know each other “in real life.” Usually, popular bloggers and web personalities offer seminars. Many conventions feature a social aspect as well.
  6. Volunteer. If you volunteer, not only will you be helping your community, but you’ll also get to know the other volunteers. Charitable organizations are usually desperate for helpers. Most volunteer organizations are willing to let you come in at the times that are most convenient for you.
  7. Join a social or religious organization. Do you have something that you’re passionate about? Take the next step and get personally involved in your cause. You will meet other like-minded people and you will have the satisfaction of living out your convictions. A few organizations even offer perks such as training classes or periodic social gatherings.
  8. Get a pet. Okay, a pet isn’t a human. However, a pet can be a great flesh and blood companion. Most of them are pretty good listeners. If you work from home, you don’t have to worry about the pet getting lonely during the day. You’ll also meet other people when you take your pet out.

Share Your Experiences

Have you faced feelings of isolation and loneliness as a freelancer?

Do you already have a flesh and blood support group? If so, how did you develop your support group?

Share your thoughts.

Image by LaPetra

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Laura,
    Ever since, I started freelancing I missed the opportunity to meet people daily in a day job. I want to join a course, or a forum where I can meet some new people to talk to.
    Good post!
    Solomon

  2. says

    I’ve gotten out and met quite a few people from MeetUp.com – Lots of like minded people with similar situations.

    Nice article :) It definitely speaks to me.

  3. says

    I attend local events regularly, from GreenDrinks LA to MindShare to NetParty to dinner parties with friends. In fact, I kind of make it part of my business plan, as I usually meet new potential clients at such events, as well as making new friends.

  4. says

    Hi Laura,
    I have read each and every post posted by you on the Freelance Folder. I honestly say that I liked your each post. So keep up the great job you are doing and I wish that you will never be lonely in your life.

    @post, As I am a engineering student so I spend lot of time with my friends in college. So from the time I start freelancing, I didn’t have experience loneliness yet.

  5. says

    Hi Nikhil!

    Yes, I think full-time freelancers struggle with this more than part-timers. Just remember to keep in touch with those college friends when you graduate. :-)

  6. says

    One of the best resources for freelancers here in Philadelphia is coworking. Rent some desk space (full or part time) among a community of fellow freelancers! Check out IndyHall.org – many other cities have their own, too!

  7. says

    I agree with your suggestions. I even take my laptop to coffee shops to write. Sometimes I see people I would not have if I did not get out.

    If you are a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, they probably have mixers, business after hours events or a committee you can join.

  8. says

    I really enjoyed this post. It inspired me to actually finish a blog post that I had started back in March on establishing a work-life balance. I am a huge fan of Meetup.com. It has a ton of groups for all kinds of interests. I am usually out one or two nights a week at one of my various Meetup groups. I’ve also met some really fascinating and fun people through Meetup who I now meet for lunch, dinner, hikes, parties, etc. “just because.”

  9. says

    Hi Mark and Jill!

    Coworking can be a great solution. In fact, I think loneliness may be one of the reasons that the trend is catching on. Meetup.com is another great option.

  10. says

    A friend and I were just talking about this last night, about how she cannot survive for a month without somebody to talk to like most of us freelancers do.

    Although I can spend most of the day without somebody to talk to, it still feels great to cap off the day talking to real people. Or if the going gets really tough, I call a friend and we have a beer or two just letting off steam.

    Thanks for the post, Laura!

  11. says

    Nearly 4 years ago now I started running Development Days for people in my profession. We just turn up and practise on each other for the day. It’s a social support network, a CPD event, a networking forum and a jolly good laugh all rolled into one. Now that I have my own seminar room they’ve become even cheaper to host, as well!

    Dave

  12. says

    Hi Laura. I *completely* relate to this post. I tried freelancing a number of years ago and completely crashed and burned, mostly because I was so isolated I just couldn’t stand it. So when I started freelancing again two years ago, I decided to do it differently. I asked a couple freelancer friends to meet me for happy hour once a month, and it’s since turned into a pretty big group of Bay Area freelancers who meet and interact regularly. A really nice balance for the many hours at the solo home office. Thanks for the post! And check out freelancecafe.org if you’re in the Bay Area.
    Best,
    Mia

  13. says

    It can be lonely but looking from the bright side of things, we can learn to appreciate the silence and solitude and interestingly, understand more about ourselves.

  14. says

    Laura, I used to go through similar trials and tribulations but discovered my best outlet was to simply log off the computer and head outdoors for awhile.

    Sometimes a brisk walk would reenergize me, giving me a chance to chat with a neighbor or a quick drive over to the post office to pick up my mail might do it.

    I’m also much more likely to be engaged locally than ever before. If there is a related seminar that interests me, then I attend that. I’m even flying across the country to attend a convention which usually leaves me exhausted but satiated with people involvement.

    Working for one self doesn’t have to mean a solitary existence…we can control that to create a good balance in our lives.

  15. says

    This is a very relevant post. The lonely warrior syndrome can catch all of us at times. What helps me is to work in public places.. like Starbucks or the library. Just being outside ‘around’ people makes it a lot better :)

  16. says

    I belong to a meetup group and a camera club; have two springer spaniels for office assistants; have a few friends I can meet for lunch a few times per month and spend a good bit of time at the gym. Sometimes I’ll work from a coffee shop rather than home. Playing with the dogs at a nearby park also offers a chance to meet others – but sometimes having lots of client meetings in a given week makes working alone more appealing!

  17. says

    I of course have 3 kids and a wife so I cant really be lonely :)
    But I do go to town on ocasion to work in cafes and stuff. This I find is great to find inspiration and just see and meet people.

    Great post, thank you very much

  18. says

    Hi Laura,

    Great article. Reminds me of a project I started a year or two ago…

    I work from home, and I wanted to start a non-business group for local home-workers like me. I spoke to a few people in a similar position to me who thought it was a great idea; I got a whole free page of editorial in a local magazine (7000+ readership); the local newspaper also ran a piece. Guess how many people replied. Yep. Two! And one of those was a friend who emailed to say they’d seen the article!

    Maybe it’s time to revisit that group idea. Every single person I’ve mentioned it to thinks it’s great. Any ideas on overcoming that inertia?

    Cheers

    Austen.

  19. says

    Hi Austen!

    Before you branch out into something of your own, you could look and see what’s already available.

    Is there a Meetup group near you?

    Someone else mentioned coworking – that could also be an option.

    Starting something new from scratch is always tougher than going with something existing.

    For what it’s worth – here’s my feedback:

    In your situation, I have to wonder if the magazine that your project was featured in was targeted towards those who work from home or just to the general public in your area. Keying in on your target group would be crucial to starting a new organization.

  20. says

    This is for Austen. (And Laura – this is a great conversation – thanks again for the post!)

    I didn’t do any advertising to start my group. I just invited a few friends out for drinks once a month and told them to invite whomever they wanted. Each time we met, I collected the business cards of anyone new who showed up, and included them on the next gathering’s invite (with their permission, of course.) Then I started a Facebook page (which has a way of spreading on it’s own) and with very little effort, I now have about 200 people on the email list.

    Granted, I’m in the Bay Area where there are TONS of work-at-home freelancers, but I think there’s something to be said for the power of word of mouth. And like you said, the interest is there – freelancers need each other to stay sane!

    Best,
    Mia

  21. jamie says

    great post! and I thought I was the only one – listening to talk radio during the day to just hear a live human voice..any human voice..to make sure the world is still out there ;)

    I am a freelancer and a some-time contractor for a nonprofit – I like to go in atleast once a week to work from their offices, I feel very fortunate to have such a welcoming, friendly place to work – it honestly really does reduce stress to just sit in the lunchroom for 10 minutes talking to everyone from the different departments.

    I also belong to a usergroup which meets once a month, and while I have an innate “shyness” that has been in the way of getting me out the door to more monthly groups, I feel like I’m slowly making progress :)

    Getting lunch with a friend atleast once a week can be tremendously therapeutic! Sometimes working from home, you get so far “in the zone” with noone to interrupt you, it’s easy to turn into a zombie – breaking up the day for a little while, casual lunch with a friend, is a good way to get the life back in me :)

  22. says

    Im suffering from major loneliness however I’d rather be alone than surrounded by fake friends being “casted” around me. How about you? Do you want someone around you genuinely interesting in befriending you or just interested to be part of “the show” giving you unnecessary drama……?

  23. angelica says

    My bf doesn’t allow me to communicate with people because he think I’m a bad girl and will go do something behind his back or lie that am meeting female friends to go do bad stuff with guys, I ended up with ZERO friends. I have no one…each time he pull away and I try to find friends then he comes back and makes me more alieanted, I feel worthless, useless, unwanted, I lost my ways with people ,now i ended up being alone. I now will have to pay for a shrink just to listen to me, coz am so lonely and i feel suicidal.
    I don’t think your tips will work for me :( even it’s great for NORMAL ppl.

  24. says

    I’m here just for the picture since it would be awesome for my presentation for school, is it possible for someone to send it to me in high resolution. My e-mail is juka_0s@hotmail.com if someone from this page can send it i would be very grateful. Thanks in advance, best wishes from Croatia.

  25. says

    Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thanks a lot
    Nonetheless I will be experiencing question with ur rss .
    Do not be acquainted with why Not able to join it.
    Can there be everyone acquiring identical rss issue?
    Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>