Words by Lori Dumaligan
Manila is one of the most crowded cities in the world but can also be one of the loneliest. Especially if you’re one of the millions of people who moved to the city alone to seek better opportunities.
And even if you were born and raised in this Metro, more often than not, you’ve probably felt lonely in this big city, missing something or someone. You’ve probably walked through the lonely hours craving a familiarity of home.
As a college student who moved to Manila from Cambodia, I’ve managed to learn a few things while swimming through this sea of loneliness. Here are seven decongestant pills I’ve discovered for those lonely moments.
6. Make an emotion tracker: A Year in Pixels
With just simple boxes and a color code, this is a fun way to keep your emotions in check when you’re in the Metro for the first time.
I first tried this during senior high school and it really helped me reflect on my anxiety for college. It was fun and helped me calm down. It’s a good way to remind you to focus on the positive things.
Also, you can get really creative with it by using symbols (like slashes or dots!) instead of drawings. But if you just don’t have the time, you can get free printables online too.
A Year in Color or Pixels is a fun way to make sense of your overflowing emotions. It would also be a really nice way look back on your first year in Manila as well!
5. Go to your nearest convenience store
Aside from getting a little bit crafty to distract yourself, doing some physical activity also helps keep the monsters in our heads at bay!
This might sound really random but taking a walk to the nearest place where you can get some food for those late night cravings or just to stretch your legs can really help. It’s a good way to motivate yourself to get out of your dorm, condo, or house.
Being in an enclosed space for long periods of time especially if you live in an urban city can be really bad for your mental health. It can make you feel restless and antsy to the point that you can’t focus. There isn’t much green space or breathable areas without any crowds in the city, so a walk is the least you can do for yourself. A walk to take a breather can help soothe those lonely thoughts after being cooped up inside too much.
4. Go somewhere new: a museum, exhibit or watch a play
Activities that push you to explore the city can also help tone down the loneliness. This might seem cliche but doing the touristy type of things is one way to fall in love with a place.
During my first few months here, I went to an exhibit. I was still trying to make friends at school, so I was there alone and didn’t expect much. But somehow, I made a friend and talked to the artists that night. It turned out really exciting and even ended up hanging out with new people!
So if you’re an introvert or avoid going to “overrated” places full of tourists, try to go just one time. Go watch a play you know nothing about or go to an event. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new best friend at that food tasting event?
3. Find your favorite spot and keep going there
On my first months living in Manila, I found that exploring the city to be the most fun. While exploring, you’ll find spots you’ll really like, whether it’s the stall that sells fries or that cafe with your favorite drink.
Why is finding your favorite spot important? It helps to make a place more familiar to you, which in turn lessens that feeling of longing for something familiar.
2. Make friends with fictional characters
Another way to fight off the lonely hours is watching your favorite TV series, a book you’ve been putting on hold, or that movie that everyone is talking about.
I’ve found that even in the most crowded places, you can still feel lonely. Sometimes, fictional characters can understand us the most and help us escape our thoughts. And if you feel that people can’t understand you, there’s a million fictional characters who will! Just open up a book or turn on your favorite series.
1. Challenge yourself to talk to a stranger
Challenging yourself to talk to a stranger can change your life. Not only will talking to new people keep you entertained but also remind you that there are people who are just like you. There are people who came to Manila from overseas or from the provinces who you can share your experiences with.
So, if you find yourself feeling alone, try out these simple ways to fight loneliness in Metro Manila!
What do you do when you’re lonely in the city? Share with us in the comments.