Can A Popular Person Be Lonely?

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge today is POPULAR

This brings to mind a conversation I had twenty-some years ago: three other women and myself were having coffee together and in the course of conversation I mentioned that I was never part of the “in-crowd.” One by one all three of my friends responded with, “I never was, either.”

This was a shocker. I always was an odd kid, raised apart from my birth family, ridiculed by my foster dad and made fun of by my peers. I became a loner — but surely these three were exactly the types to be leading an in-crowd!

Lise, a French-Canadian nurse, wife of the town vet and mom to three, was as lively and friendly as they come. Same with Diane, also a nurse, the wife of a school teacher and mother of a son and twin girls. They could visit with anybody. Ruth, the United Church Minister’s wife, university-educated, outgoing, cheerful, also sharing her thoughts freely. I loved visiting with each of them and could imagine they’d have been the most popular girls in any school.

If these girls weren’t part of “the in-crowd,” who was?

Take comfort, those of you who aren’t so popular at school. Teens who are not part of the in-crowd can still become friendly, moxie people with active minds, maybe even more caring and sharing than those who agonize about fitting in.

Yesterday Pastor J S Park posted a great article: “LONELINESS, The Unnamed Pain.” He’s given me permission to reblog it, but for some reason that isn’t working as it should, so I’ll copy and paste. If you struggle with loneliness this is a must-read. And he says yes, you can be lonely surrounded by other people.


I’m not a therapist or doctor, but as a hospital chaplain, I’ve seen the terrible and awful effects of loneliness on mental health. The problem is that it’s tough to admit, almost embarrassing to say, “I’m hurting from loneliness.”

Loneliness is a double-bind in that in order to find comfort, it requires reaching out to people or for people to be near. But some of us have been alone so long, it’s unthinkable that we can connect with another human without risking rejection—which fuels more loneliness.


The unhelpful reply I hear to “I’m lonely” is “Why don’t you just make friends?” But that’s like saying, “Why don’t you just get rich?” or “Why can’t you just go to the gym?” We’re already in deficit, a lap behind, because we fear connection in proportion to how alone we feel.

It’s difficult to make friends and keep them. It’s hard to have real friendships that are not just functional transactions. Even when someone is surrounded by crowds or well connected, they may be the loneliest people on earth, because all their “friends” are transactional.


I don’t know the answer to loneliness. But I know what the answer is not: We can’t just snap out of it. We can’t just cure it with a party, a bar, a church, a dating app. It requires intentional investment and yes, the risk of rejection. The opposite of loneliness is courage. It takes courage to reach out, to enter each other’s orbit, to risk trust, and to be alone in our thoughts and fears.

Friends, this week may be lonely. This season can be brutal. They can remind you of all that’s missing. As trite as it sounds: You may feel lonely, but you are not alone. May you find the courage to reach out, to enter the possibilities of love in all its heaven and heartache.

Many thanks to Pastor Park for allowing me to share his encouraging article.


11 thoughts on “Can A Popular Person Be Lonely?

  1. I wasn’t in the “in crowd” either, most of them were into drugs, sex, smoking in the bathrooms, and drink, looking like hippies, very unfriendly. I was one of the “nerds” passing my classes, getting a scholarship, and making good memories to chase me around in life. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comment. I don’t know if I was a nerd, but I did well in school. I didn’t expect to be popular, so I never missed not being, but we moved every couple of years so I never stayed at a school long enough to put down roots.
      I suspect we’ve given children very high expectations about how they should be included, a success, “a superstar” even, so they have a lot harder time with being rejected. They soon discover that so many “friends” want to be the star and only want them around as supporting cast, or stage props in the drama.


  2. There were definite “circles” in my high school, but lots of time they were fluid and included kids who weren’t really a part of those circles. Aren’t you glad it isn’t an issue for us any more? I am who I am. I don’t care if I’m accepted by and :in: crowd. I have lots of wonderful caring friends and family. And that’s all I need.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad for you. 🙂 I’m not as well set up re: family and still struggle with occasional bouts of “nobody likes me,” but for the most part, this doesn’t make a lot of difference in my life. I do have to feel good in my own skin, as the French say.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. And never forget that Jesus died for all the “circles” because the need was the same, no matter what social stratum you may inhabit. Personally, I think you’re pretty special 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Very true. Jesus died to lift us out of “circles” and into one divine family circle.
        I was glad to reconnect with my earthly family circle today, too, even though it happened around the bed of a dying sister.
        And thank you. — it’s great to know there are some who find my thoughts worthwhile. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel rejection and loneliness at times too, especially when family members don’t seem to take an interest in me, as I do them. On a lighter note, I just recently reconnected with my “best friend” from high school. We were both outside the in crowd in those days, which is probably why we became friends in the first place. After graduating, we drifted apart, but happily, a chance meeting has brought new life into our friendship!

    Liked by 1 person

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