Going through school and university, I’d never have classed myself as lonely. I always had people surrounding me and someone to hang out with at the weekend.

Friday nights out, weekend shopping trips and sleepovers filled my teenage years. But as education faltered away and the real world came looming, this slowed down.

I first realised I was lonely when I overheard a conversation between some girls talking about being a bridesmaid for their best friend.

I’ve always wanted to get married, and listening to them I let my mind wander, imagining my future wedding day.

I thought over my friendship group, and that’s when I realised I didn’t have anyone I could ask to be my bridesmaid.

Rhian

I realised I didn’t have anyone I could ask to be my bridesmaid (Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk)

I have no collection of besties, or even a single person that I’m close enough with to ask them to be heavily involved in what is meant to be the happiest day of your life.

This realisation really got to me and I was saddened by it. It was only made worse when I had rubbish days, feeling the urge to rant and talk it over with someone, only to scroll through my phone contacts to find I didn’t have anyone to confide in.

Lacking those close people who you can share good and bad news with can be really hard.

Stereotypically, a lonely person is old, but I am one of the many young people who has started to identify more with this label. I am constantly trying to push my boundaries, even if it means feeling uncomfortable.

I can form conversations, go out and have a laugh and be engaging.

Rhian

Lacking those close people who you can share good and bad news with can be really hard (Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk)

On the surface, I might seem like a confident extrovert, but it is the deeper connections and long-lasting friendships I struggle with.

I’ve lived in the same town since I was born and even during university I didn’t move away.

I feel like my steadiness should have ensured enduring friendships, but it feels like my friends have moved on. They’ve moved abroad, or have got married and had kids.

In the past four years, I have felt increasingly isolated and I place part of the blame at social media’s feet.

In the UK there are an estimated 45 million social media users, which is about 67 per cent of the entire population.

Rhian

Seeing people’s shiny, polished lives and friendships on Instagram only makes me question why I can’t have that too (Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk)

With the click of a button you can connect with anyone and it takes away the need for real human contact and interaction. You’re never going to have the same bond and connection over the internet as you do in real life and it’s that that I miss.

To be honest, seeing people’s shiny, polished lives and friendships on Instagram only makes me question why I can’t have that, too. I’m lonely, so I turn to Instagram, and then I come off feeling worse.

I never thought I would be lonely at this age, and it’s something I am trying to change every day. It’s a situation that only I can resolve but it’s difficult.

I’m fortunate in that I’m in a relationship with someone who is a constant and I can spend my time with, but I need friendships.

I’ve started online friend-dating in the hopes that I might find some good matches. So far it’s not been too bad, I’ve started speaking to some great sounding people.

But I’m yet to meet anyone in real life. Whether this is my inner self telling me I’m fine as I am, or my worry that new people won’t like me, I’m not sure.

For me, it’s not just about finding anyone, but those whose interests I share and can form long-lasting relationships with.

Hopefully one day I’ll know who to contact when I have great news to share.

You can read Rhian’s blog here, and follow her on Instagram here

Labels

Labels is an exclusive series that hears from individuals who have been labelled – whether that be by society, a job title, or a diagnosis. Throughout the project, writers will share how having these words ascribed to them shaped their identity  positively or negatively  and what the label means to them.

If you would like to get involved please email jess.austin@metro.co.uk

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