On loneliness and the need for a support system

by | Dec 4, 2023

Mayrena is the founder and CEO of Colorful Resilience LLC (www.colorfulresilience.com)

Email: mayrena@colorfulresilience.com

Let’s talk.

If I were given $5 bucks every time a person asked me (usually in the context of therapy) “How does one go about making friends as an adult?” I would have enough money accumulated to fly myself, first class, to the Caribbean right now.

There is this concept of a “support system.” It’s a beautiful structure that helps you feel held and connected. Belonging, after all, can feel like a privilege to some despite it being a basic need. It is also an incredible challenge for people who have been intentionally or unintentionally excluded.

Take an immigrant or transplant, for example. This person left everything and everyone they knew behind to work towards the promise of a better future. They have to build their support system from scratch, often multiple times (like in the case of a divorce or a new job in a new town).

Take any member of the LGBTQIA+ community for good measure: This human struggles to find safety while out and about, at work, and many, many times in their own home. Sometimes, family has turned their back on them, which has led to the ever-increasing sentiment of “Chosen Family,” which is the holy grail of outcomes in situations like these. 

What about those who choose to walk away from a religion they have known and been a part of for multiple years, which means no longer having access to the community and resources that were once afforded to them? Ask anyone who has gone through that experience, and they’ll tell you it’s a very lonely journey.

And the thing is that a support system is not something you go to the store to purchase. It is not like you meet someone and immediately assume they are now a part of your team. Creating an inner circle takes time, trial and error, painful learning experiences, resilience, determination, and intentionality. It is not for the faint of heart, and more times than not, it is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. But you keep trying because the alternative is bleak, and you love yourself enough to know you are worth the effort. 

If you think about it, the ultimate goal of romantic love is creating a built-in support system. Your partner is your person, your “ride or die” (in theory). I think that is a lot to put on one person and could turn into textbook codependency if you walk around without a clear understanding of the dynamics at play. In the end, you need a system, not a person. And in your system, you don’t just need humans: You need the right kind of humans according to your heart.

I thank my former 6 am CrossFit coach for introducing me to her excellent partner. These two are my people.

I am thankful to my ex-boyfriend’s college friend’s wife. She is my people. 

I am thankful to my former co-worker and forever colleague. She is my people.

I am thankful for the human I hired as a domestic employee when I moved to Punta Cana during the pandemic. She is among the most intelligent, genuine, loyal, and driven women I know. She is my people.

I am thankful to the singer in that band I’ve liked for the past nine years who currently works for me. She is my people. 

I am thankful for my first-ever experience of belonging in college and for the three women and the one man who still check on each other despite being in 4 different countries. They are my people.

The journey to build your support system doesn’t ever stop. You never know where you will find your people, and it is improbable they will show up knocking on your door. You have to go and do it. You have to go and be. You have to put yourself out there and experience the dance of sometimes being in tune and sometimes being out of tune with someone. If you are lucky, you will vibrate at a similar frequency, and with time and practice, you will have yourself a new member of your tribe. 

So take that class, join that group, go to that event, approach that person, write that profile, go to that place. Your people are out there, and you will find them when and where you least expect it. I know I did.

A support system is imperative for human survival, and belonging is a gift from the universe. I wish that your heart feels held by the right humans and that you remain open to letting more people in. Because being lonely sucks, and we all deserve to feel welcomed.


This essay was written in response to the following article: