Loneliness



Loneliness. Doesn't have quite the same ring to it in English as it does in Finnish. In Finland loneliness has been in headlines for a while now because it's becoming a huge social problem: 400 000 lonely people in a country of 5 million. Scientifically explained loneliness is an involuntary experience and emotion. For a lot of people in the world this might sound incomprehensible, but even in a metropolis you can be completely alone. I would know. 

As a Finn I enjoy being on my own every now and then. Nothing beats a lazy Sunday alone at home or in a café with a book. During busy weeks or months I see those lonely days as a bit of luxury. But a human being, especially me, has a limit with the voluntary loneliness. For some that limit is just a need to ask an opinion or telling someone what happened to them today. The simplest thing, but it can be devastating if you don't have anyone to ask or to tell. Others, like me, have the limit much lower: just the need to see a familiar face and talk, even if it's completely "useless" talk. Once again, I find myself being most irregular a Finn.


Loneliness is a very Finnish-sort of a problem: in Finland young people move out from under their parents' roof around the age of 16-18 and start an independent life. The culture there also encourages people to take care of themselves themselves. And we do! To the extent that it's not healthy anymore. It is very common in Finland that when a person is in trouble and someone goes to help them, the helper gets insulted or even beaten up by the one in need of help. "I can manage!" has become a cultural joke there... although I can't see much hilarity in it anymore.

This is not a new thing, this super-independency. The stupid obstinacy has been in our culture since the beginning of time. But nowadays in the very fast-paced, egocentric life  loneliness is starting to affect people's health. The Western adoration for pure capitalism isn't helping it at all. It's funny how still in 2015 people don't seem to understand that money is bad company. And as such it is not worth as much as most people seem to think. Unfortunately that insane adoration seems to be getting worse by the minute. 


The cultural aspect is also supported by the fact that loneliness is quite a foreign concept here in Slovakia. I remember in Finland years ago how it was worth mentioning in the news that in Russia many people living in a block of flats know their neighbours and constantly spend time with them. Here also it's quite normal whereas in Finland we try our best to ignore our neighbours. The culture here in Slovakia is very warm and caring, families are very close and you can almost always count on help when you need it. People would rather disappear from their best friend's wedding for an hour in order to help a new colleague move in to a new flat than to tell them to figure it out themselves. Imagine that my fellow-Finns :D


I know what it feels like to be completely alone in a metropolis. I moved to London for six months without knowing anyone there and it turned out that the office I worked in had no other employees my age or in the same "phase" (in need of a better word..) of life. They had families and their own comings and goings already. Even though I found a flat with most amazing flatmates they also had their own lives in and outside of London. Couple times I went to a pub or a bar alone to sit by the bar hoping that someone, anyone would come and talk. Nobody did. After two months it all got to be too much and I had to fly home to remind myself that I'm not alone in this world.

Here I've been welcomed with open arms everywhere. And I wasn't joking; when I flew here my then flatmate left his friend's wedding to pick me up from the airport and drive me and my stuff to my new home. People here are so considerate and always think about what's best for you, not themselves. Of course this sometimes causes delays when we're trying to figure out who's being the one allowing the other to have the choice but neither wants to be the one to make the choice: "After you", "No, no, after you", "No, no, I insist", "I insist as well" and oh, look at that, you've blocked the doorway for 10 minutes :D Gotta love them Slovaks <3

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