It was my first time participating as The Anti-Loneliness Project in a big expat event like that. And the first time that I could really experience people's reactions about the Anti-Loneliness idea/project LIVE.
And from one point onwards, I thought "Oh gosh, I should start keeping notes". The reactions were so many and so different, that you must see it to believe how much of a variety there is in people's perspectives, beliefs and views.
To start with...
REACTION #1: A man congratulated me on the idea, and added that "Finally somebody is talking about the elephant in the room. Yes, everyone feels lonely even though they are not alone, and still barely anyone dares to admit it."
Well, you are right, wise man, I haven't thought that it would be such a big taboo, so thank you for the insight.
REACTION #2: Couples walking together. When suddenly they see my stand where in the middle the name "The Anti-Loneliness Project" stood. Then one turns to the other and asks (for confirmation maybe?..): "We are not lonely, right?" Then the other one reassures them that no, they are not, and then they both walk fast past my stand.
REACTION #3: A woman approached me and with some sad bitterness in her voice she said: "I wish I knew you when I was going through a crisis in my marriage. We were fighting with my partner the whole time, and for me it felt like I had nowhere to go."
This is the kind of loneliness we are talking about: the one you are with someone but you are so disconnected with them that it feels you have no one next to you. Yes, I wish I could have helped back then.
REACTION #4: Although there were thousands of people visiting the fair, and hundreds of people talking to me, there were some moments of peace that no one was at my stand, I was sitting there relaxing and waiting. And then someone would come and say: "How ironic! You are sitting alone next to your Anti-Loneliness stand!
Yes, it can happen to everyone.
REACTION #5: There were 1-2 people that while walking in front of my stand, they looked at the "Anti-Loneliness" title, let out a sad, deep sigh, and continued walking.
I hope they don't feel lonely anymore.
REACTION #6: Most of the times people came to me and asked me their questions over my company and "what's this project about?". It was not me that stood in their way and asked them if they want to learn more or if they feel lonely, etc. So one of the most impressive reactions were these people that just looked at the title "Anti-Loneliness, Counselling to defeat loneliness" and then immediately looked at me and claimed in a firm, almost defensive, way: "Not for me". And then walked away fast.
I wish I could believe you.
REACTION #7: People giggling upon seeing the title. Most of them very young.
I couldn't help thinking "I wish it was funny for those who experience this cold, distant, lonely feeling". But you can't teach something that life itself will teach you, right?
REACTION #8: Some people didn't contact me while on the event, even though they passed over my stand and saw me there. They preferred to email me later on, and ask me all their questions.
Any way of communication is more than welcome.
THE MOST COMMON REACTION: The majority of people were really impressed with my mission. "How impressive!", "What a good initiative!", "Interesting topic for discussion!", and many many more.
People shared with me their ideas and their thoughts about loneliness and also their life-experiences and that was priceless! Not to mention the people that had very interesting and creative ideas for collaboration and we promised to keep in touch for future projects.
That experience was totally worth it! Thank you everybody!
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