Posted on 18 May 2019
In the last year or so loneliness has been a hot topic in Australia. With health impacts found to match those of smoking cigarettes, issues and implications associated with loneliness are receiving much recognition and attention. In the fight against social isolation, one Victorian MP has even proposed bringing the issue to politics, following the footsteps of Britain and proposing a Minister for Loneliness. While at Mr Men’s Melbourne we understand that sometimes even in the largest crowds we can feel our loneliest, we also understand that finding purpose and passion in leisure activities is helpful.. Here are our four tips for getting out and getting involved, and how they might help you and others around you.
Learn a language
The benefits of communicating in multiple languages speaks for itself, but there’s one thing we all tend to forget: Learning a language isn’t simply knowing how to structure words to communicate; learning a language is learning context. Understanding words which don’t have an English equivalent, context which simply cannot be translated and grammatical structures that wouldn’t make sense in any other language expands the mind. It changes the way you see things and provides perspective into a world you didn’t know existed.
Very often learning another language can help us understand our own first language better, too. By starting at the beginning of one language you’re forced to think and to find the way you’d communicate something in your native tongue before understanding it in your new language. Language classes are also a fantastic way to meet like-minded, linguistically inclined individuals.
Take a night class
We all have that one subject we’ve always wanted to learn that didn’t quite fit our original study plan. In times where many job markets are already flooded and there’s no shortage of new graduates every year, furthering our education gives us a competitive edge. Whether you want to take a specialist edge into your vocation of choice or slowly transition into your dream job, night classes are the way to go. To maintain motivation and make sure we’re in the right frame of mind, it’s as simple as structuring our courses around work. There’s a lot of postgraduate certificates, diplomas and degrees which provide flexible, part-time study options. Nowadays recognition of prior learning (RPL) helps those of us with the necessary skills and experience but without the undergraduate degree receive the certifications we’ve earned. Or, at the very least, it helps us gain entry pathways for further education, saving our time and money on our night courses.
Become a serviceman or servicewoman
In SBS’s piece supporting a minister for loneliness, one of the most restricting factors from joining more social events and leisurely activities was a limited budget. We’d like to propose joining the services. There’s a lot of misconceptions around joining the services and the opportunities they provide. Most of us tend to think we’re signing our lives away and we’re locked into a system, but that’s hardly the case. As government organisations, services like Defence operate with lots of testing, training opportunities, career progression, management services and sporting opportunities. That also means there are training requirements, competencies to be earned and tests to pass before you can be deployed. In many roles in a reservist capacity, you can commit as little as 20 days per year to your job role. If you have qualifications which meet Defence’s specialist roles you might also be able to work your day job but for defence. Being your second job, there’s recognition of issues regarding commitment to exercises so Defence provides the freedom to choose when you serve and if you are available to serve. Sometimes exercises will fall during your holidays and you can earn a little extra while on break. It’s also important to know it’s a requirement by law for your employer to provide leave as a reservist and many larger companies employ their own national service policies, some, like government, even provide paid military leave.
Being a part of something bigger and working towards a goal or a mission can help seek purpose in life. Defence’s fitness requirements and regular testing keep us on the ball and a little busy.
While to a lot of us volunteer work might sound like free labour or make us somewhat nostalgic of unpaid internships and traineeships, that’s not always the case. There’s a lot of ways for us to volunteer our time with the right organisations and communities and genuinely make a difference in a fair and just environment. These don’t have to be overpriced overseas volunteer programs which can cost more than a holiday while someone else profits. These can be as simple as local sporting competitions, Surf Life Saving clubs or even for events. For us personally, we think finding volunteer opportunities with organisations that fall in line with our vocation can be most rewarding. Through sharing our knowledge and teaching others what we know we can often rekindle passions or give another purpose to our work. In the New York Time’s Finding Meaning and Happiness in Old Age, connecting with the elderly was one way to rid ourselves of fears associated with growing up. You might also find listening to the stories of somebody much older than us who experienced life in a different age and time might help us find clarity in our own lives through their lens.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but whatever you decide to use to cure your loneliness or find purpose, there’s no better way than to help build a better world around you.