Loneliness is a universal experience which can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or background. However, in the lead-up to International Women’s Day 2020, we’re highlighting female experiences of loneliness in honour of this year’s theme: #EachforEqual.
We’ve created a series of blogs from the women behind the Campaign to End Loneliness. They talk about the ways in which loneliness can feel worse as a woman, and what we can all do to tackle that.
First to share her story was Dr Kellie Payne, our Research and Policy Manager. This is her story about loneliness on maternity leave, and finding your people.
“Last year, I went on maternity leave. Having worked on loneliness as an issue since 2015, I knew becoming a new mum was a life transition that would put me at risk of feeling lonely. So, to avoid it, I tried to surround myself with as many people as possible who were going through the same thing.
“I found a mum-and-baby wine-tasting class, and on Thursdays at ‘In Vino Veritas’, I found my people.”
But what I didn’t expect, was that I felt loneliest when I was surrounded by people who I didn’t connect with. Just because we were all new mums, it didn’t mean we had anything else in common.
I thought about what I’m passionate about, where I might find like-minded mums who I could connect with on more than just breastfeeding and nappy changes. And what I am passionate about is wine! So, I found a mum-and-baby wine-tasting class, and on Thursdays at ‘In Vino Veritas’, I found my people.
“I felt loneliest surrounded by people I didn’t connect with. Just because we were all new mums, it didn’t mean we had anything else in common.”
I also chose to value the friendships I already have. Even if they’re not parents, they’re still the most supportive people I have in my life. I thought I needed to connect with mums, but all I really needed was a support network, and I realised I already had that, even if they didn’t have their own offspring (yet).”
This blog is part of a series for International Women’s Day 2020.