From a young age, Lindsey Nowicki has always had a sense of purpose and direction. As a successful graphic designer at age 32 now, it would seem it's paid dividends. But even with a boyfriend, family, and a small circle of friends, Nowicki says she still has a persistent feeling of loneliness.
"[There's] just not a lot of people that I can count on," she told Scripps News. "Like, if anything bad were to happen, it would probably be me alone in the struggle."
Nowicki is part of a group of millennials that experts refer to as the loneliest generation.
Five months before COVID shutdowns, a YouGov poll found that 30% of millennials between the ages of 23 and 38 said they always or often feel lonely. Of those surveyed, 20% said they have no friends, 27% said they have no close friends, and 30% said they don't have anyone they consider a best friend.
For many, it's made the present feel dreadful and the future even more bleak.
"I don't know if it's a malicious thing. It's just the times change and it's hard to learn new things," Nowicki said. "It's hard to want to learn new things. It's hard to want to change and be a better person and seek absolution wherever that be for whoever you are."
Some might hear this and brush it off. But others say it's a constant feeling of paralysis.
Erika Manczak is a clinical psychologist who wrote an article on the loneliness epidemic, in which she said technology is one of the many forces playing a major role. While technology can help people connect, Manczak said it can also erode the quality of those connections.
"It brings with it opportunities to connect in new ways, to live in new places, to move out of the small towns that maybe you were born in," she said. "On the other hand, it makes our social lives potentially more fractured, and if we're not finding ourselves in situations where we can have true dialogue, like reciprocal connection, that's going to contribute to a more superficial level of connection, even if we have objectively more connections in our lives."
While Nowicki has loved ones in her life, she says she also feels misaligned and misunderstood. A Bentley University survey from 2018 found that 66% of millennials also feel the same way.
"My own parents know that I'm depressed," Nowicki said. "I joke about it all the time and the answer is, 'Ah, we did the best we could,' which they [my parents] did. But sometimes it's not enough, and sometimes society changes and you've got to change with it."
To those who feel this way, everyday life can be overwhelming, as they say it's underscored many of the objective accomplishments they've achieved.
"It's a lot of just hoping right now," Nowicki said.
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