Me, Myself, & Isla - Lifting the Lid on Loneliness

Hey, I’m Isla. I’m 45 and I work in marketing in events. I’m also a volunteer board member for a local mental health charity. I’m single, which can feel weird to say out loud at my age. I love people, interactions with people make me feel alive and give me purpose, and as long as I have those, being single usually feels just fine. But then came Covid-19, to really mess with everything that made me feel good. When lockdown kicked in during March 2020, life changed for all of us. Everyone’s situation was different, and the impact (good for some as well as bad) was different for everyone. Some felt the pain of living alone, others had the horror show of home schooling, and I don’t have adequate words or experience to even begin a discussion on the people who suffered loss during lockdown, or worked on the front line. However, one feeling I think most people felt to varying degrees was loneliness. And even if you were lucky enough not to feel lonely, I’m sure you knew someone that possibly was. All of a sudden, human contact drastically reduced, with very little exception, and for some it disappeared completely. If I’m honest, I still can’t believe it when I think about it. I think it’s only now that we’re starting to mix properly again, and believe we can now make plans for the future, that I can let myself think about what we’ve all been through. But then I got to thinking, loneliness isn’t a new thing. It didn’t just appear as a result of the pandemic, although for sure levels drastically increased. Loneliness has been around forever, and we haven’t talked about it until now because it’s a bit embarrassing. And that means the people have suffered with this feeling on their own, without knowing that so many people are out there feeling the same, perhaps just for different reasons. Someone who I hope to speak to soon said that loneliness is her “favourite dirty word”, and I love this, because it’s true. We all feel it at some point in our life, but we’re scared to say for fear of being judged. And so came the idea for my first podcast (and possibly last, depending how this lands) ‘Me, myself, and I(sla) – Lifting the Lid on Loneliness. I want to talk to people who are comfortable speaking about times in their life when they have felt lonely, and what they did or are doing to find a way through. I put a call for guests out my own social channels, and was blown away by the responses I got back. People who felt lonely in their marriage, lonely in their new management position, lonely with an illness, lonely living on their own, lonely as a new parent, lonely as children left the home, lonely because they don’t feel heard, and the list goes on… I also heard from people who are extremely happy being alone, and those who make time to be on their own as often as they can. So I hope to speak with some of these awesome people across the next few weeks and months, and find out a little more about their experiences, and listen to any hints, tips and good advice they have to share. The one thing I already know is that if you have felt, or are feeling alone, ironically you are far from alone. And maybe that fact is a little piece of comfort for now.

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Episodes

Sunday Jun 19, 2022

Today my guest is Mark Dalgarno, a Global Talent Acquisition Lead at Minor Figures, and a well-respected CV and Career Coach. Mark got in touch a few months ago and offered to join me on my podcast. He suggested sharing some of his experiences of being alone, and also being lonely, which are of course two different things, and how times of loneliness helped him to build strength and resilience. On this podcast Mark reflects on times when he was travelling alone, when he moved to Glasgow on his own for work, and of course the impact of the pandemic. He also talks about the feeling of empowerment that comes from having to make decisions on your own, because you are on your own, rather than looking to others for advice or opinions. I really enjoyed my Sunday afternoon chat with Mark, and I hope you do too.

Monday Jun 06, 2022

Welcome to the next episode of ‘Me, Myself, and Isla – Lifting the Lid on Loneliness’. Today we’re talking to Craig Leith, Senior Lecturer at Robert Gordon’s University in Aberdeen, and Subject Leader of Hospitality, Tourism, and Events. Craig got in touch back in January when I very first put the idea of my podcast out there, and suggested he speak about his PhD research on the area of Solo Tourism, and the relationship with loneliness. I was over the moon, this was a great angle that I’d never thought of, but before I knew it, it was April, and we hadn’t managed to chat yet. So we tried again! Within minutes of talking to Craig I knew he’d be great. His passion for solo travelling is infectious, but he is also very in tune with the emotional and practical reasons why solo travelling could be great for some people, and trickier for others, and those is covered with kindness and humor in this podcast. I’ve always been nervous about the thought of being a solo tourist, I think I’ve felt embarrassed or worried that I might be judged, but Craig’s stories, enthusiasm and great advice for anyone considering a solo adventure, make me think I could give it a go. I felt super energised and full of good vibes after this chat with Craig, and I really hope you feel the same.

Wednesday Apr 27, 2022

Laura Antonia Jordan is the Fashion and Lifestyle Features Director at Grazia, my favourite ever magazine, so I was over the moon when she agreed to join me on my podcast. I approached Laura after reading an incredible article that she wrote about loneliness in lockdown. I felt every word she said, and it turns out I wasn’t alone because it was one of her most read articles to date. I also watched a short clip of a Zoom call she shared, where she talks about loneliness being her ‘favourite unsexy subject’, and that clip became one of my main reasons for starting this podcast. I sent Laura a DM, and couldn’t believe my luck when she replied, and with utter kindness given that I was a complete stranger, and hadn’t even started the podcast yet. We spend the next wee while trying to sort out a suitable time to chat as Laura jetted around the world for each of the Fashion Weeks. That last bit is important, because if someone who is kind, cool, and sassy like Laura can also talk openly about loneliness, then I think we all can, and we don’t need to be embarrassed. Laura speaks so wisely, and with an incredible self-awareness, throughout this chat, which only helps to highlight that I’m a little star struck at times, but I don’t care. I loved every bloody minute of this podcast, I still can’t believe it happened, and I hope you love it too.

Tuesday Apr 12, 2022

When I was deciding whether or not do this podcast, I put some feelers out on social media and was blown away by the response that I got. So many people reached out to say they were glad this topic was finally being covered, shared their own experiences of loneliness, and some people even offered to join me for a chat. Adele Slater, a friend and someone I’ve also been lucky enough to work with, was one of the first people to respond to my social posts. She was also the first person to say she’d like to talk about single positivity, and the importance of being able to, and actually prioritise, spending time alone. My conversation with Adele is a breath of fresh air, and I hope it makes you feel as good as it made me feel. We talk about the potential to feel like failures in a society that favours women who are married with children, but we also share examples of role models we have who are paving the way for single women. We covered single positivity, and how this doesn’t mean we aren’t interested in starting relationships, it just means we don’t need them to feel like the best versions of ourselves.

Wednesday Mar 30, 2022

Carolyn Pierpont is 44, a proud mama to her 11-year-old son Aiden, and co-parents with her ex-husband. They are all currently living in The Netherlands.  In March 2020, as the world went into lockdown because of Covid-19, Carolyn faced the additional crisis of being diagnosed with Breast Cancer, hundreds of miles away from her family and the majority of her friends. I was so grateful when Carolyn agreed to talk about her experience of loneliness as a result of her cancer diagnosis, in a new country, and during a global pandemic. Carolyn is a special human, and I hope you find our conversation as inspiring as I did.

Monday Mar 14, 2022

Welcome to the first episode of my podcast, ‘Me, Myself, and Isla – Lifting the Lid on Loneliness’. I'm joined by Astrid Whyte and Laura Simmons, who are both experienced person-centred counsellors, and have wisdom and compassion for everyone. I was over the moon when they agreed to join me for a chat about loneliness in general, share our own experiences of it, chat about the various causes of loneliness, and the importance of having the courage to speak up.

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