Every human on the planet has experienced moments of loneliness and aloneness. Sometimes, these feelings may blow through us as quickly as a passing squall, but other times, they linger like a fog that we can’t quite see our way out of. No matter where you are in life and no matter what your particular kind of blue, please know that you’ve got company. Here are 6 talks that your friends at TED have picked for you.
If you always feel like the odd one out … watch Lidia Yuknavitch.
This talk is for the weirdos, the survivors and the still-recovering. Even if you’ve never felt understood, author and self-proclaimed misfit Lidia Yuknavitch wants you to know that you are worthy and deserving of good things. Her talk is a love letter to anyone who struggles to feel like they belong.
“Even at the moment of your failure, right then, you are beautiful. You don’t know it yet, but you have the ability to reinvent yourself endlessly,” Lidia says. “Your story deserves to be heard, because you, you rare and phenomenal misfit, you new species, are the only one in the room who can tell the story the way only you would.”
If you don’t have anyone to confide in … watch Jonny Sun.
Speaking openly about our feelings and fears can be petrifying and make us feel incredibly vulnerable and undefended. Instead of evading or hiding those feelings, writer, artist and Twitter fixture Jonny Sun thinks we should lean into our vulnerability and share our true selves with others. In a talk full of his illustrations, he shows how Twitter helped him understand the pain points of being a human being — and discover the value of sharing his struggles with mental health and with imposter syndrome
“Many of my closest friends are people that I met originally online,” Jonny says. “That’s partly because there’s this confessional nature to social media. It can feel like you are writing in this personal, intimate diary that’s completely private, yet at the same time you want everyone in the world to read it… When someone shares that they feel sad or afraid or alone, for example, it actually makes me feel less alone, not by getting rid of any of my loneliness but by showing me that I am not alone in feeling lonely.”
If your heart is broken … watch Guy Winch.
There’s no reason to sugarcoat it: A broken heart hurts like hell. Yet we don’t always take the unique emotional pain of heartbreak as seriously as we should. Psychologist Guy Winch has some realistic advice on how you can heal and start to move on with your life.
“When your heart is broken, the same instincts you ordinarily rely on will time and again lead you down the wrong path. You simply cannot trust what your mind is telling you,” Guy says. “Getting over heartbreak is not a journey. It’s a fight, and your reason is your strongest weapon.”
If you’re grieving … watch Nora McInerny.
Losing a loved one is a brutal experience that forever changes our lives. It’s strange, confusing, and unpredictable. Listening to Nora McInerny on grief is like hearing from a brutally honest, wickedly funny friend on the topic: she’ll tell you about feeling visceral rage at the sight of happy old couples and being weirdly attracted to the Property Brothers. And she’ll leave you feeling understood and maybe even hopeful — just make sure you bring tissues.
“Grief is one of those things, like falling in love or having a baby or watching ‘The Wire’ on HBO, where you don’t get it until you get it, until you do it,” Nora says. “You understand what you’re experiencing is not a moment in time, it’s not a bone that will reset, but that you’ve been touched by something chronic. Something incurable. It’s not fatal, but sometimes grief feels like it could be.”
If you just really want to be in your feelings … watch Luke Sital-Singh.
Sometimes we just need to cry it out to a beautiful, sad song — maybe two — and it just so happens that singer-songwriter Luke Sital-Singh specializes in those. In a talk between performances of his music, Luke says, “Songs that sing of sorrow, of grief, of longing, of the darker side of love, the underside of being alive, these are the songs I just never tire of hearing and I never tire of writing, because they make me feel less alone.”
If you need some help making new friends … watch Kio Stark.
Writer and teacher Kio Stark is obsessed with talking to strangers — yes, really — and she thinks we should break out of our shells once in a while to enjoy these fleeting moments of connection. She tells us how we can turn occasional chats with strangers into a regular practice, adding a little solidarity to our often-solitary routines.
“When you talk to strangers, you’re making beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your daily life and theirs. You’re making unexpected connections,” Kio says.