Wide open spaces…
Room to breathe… Few neighbors… No barking dogs… Room for the kids to run… Breathtaking views…
They are all reasons I love to spout as being my favorite parts of living in the middle of nowhere.
And they are all true. In fact, I’d venture to say most of you reading this blog agree with the above as being some of your favorite parts of living rurally, too. And for those of you who have yet to make the move, these are the things you dream about.
But in talking with some rural mom friends lately, I’ve realized there’s another side to country living we don’t talk about often enough…
What happens when you finally have your chickens, and garden plot, and that pantry full of mason jars… And you look yourself in the mirror one today and realize you’re FLAT-OUT LONELY.
Sometimes living in the country can be flat-out isolating, y’all. Especially when you’re a mom with little ones. I know this all too well…
Because for all of the benefits and perks of living out-of-town, there are downfalls, too. No matter how you slice it, going to town is always an event– there’s no such thing as a “quick trip”… There aren’t play-groups, kids activities, or mom’s groups on every corner when you live in the middle of nowhere… And it’s not exactly easy to meet a friend for lunch last-minute.
You find yourself spending a lot of time by yourself, the walls feel like they’re closing in a bit, and you maybe even start wondering if this whole homesteading-thing was a little bit of a mistake… Anyone relate?
Why Some People Struggle… And Some Don’t.
I know some of you are reading this and thinking, “NOPE! The isolation is my favorite part!”
Some folks immediately admitted their own struggles with homesteading and loneliness, while others said they couldn’t imagine ever feeling lonely with so much to do.
The difference lies in personalities. Some people are introverts (energized by being alone) and some are extroverts (energized by being with people). Some people are project-motivated and perfectly happy spending hours alone working on the “next big thing,” while others are people-motivated and require human connection to feel healthy and valued.
There’s room for all kinds in this homesteading gig, but I do think it’s crucial to understand what makes you tick– it’ll go a long way in helping you know what you need to add or omit from your homesteading plan to make sure you don’t feel like you’re losing your mind a few years in.
Personally, I’m a project-driven introvert, which is quite the hermit-combination, as you can probably imagine. That also means I can go a long, long time without human contact and feel extremely content (that is, as long as I have a good project in front of me).
Therefore, it might surprise you to know I still had my own battle with homestead loneliness about six years ago…
How I Battled Homestead Loneliness… And Won.
I’m a high-energy, Type-A person, so when I quit my full-time job in 2010 to stay home with newborn Prairie Girl, I about lost my mind. (Just keeping it real, my friends…)
I LOVED being a mom, and I was totally committed to staying home with our kids, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I only had one tiny baby who slept a lot, and there’s only so many times you can “deep-clean” a 900 square foot house. I was BORED, y’all.
The homestead projects we had going did help. I kept myself occupied in the summer with the garden and yard, but winters were excruciating, and I DREADED them. I gained an intimate understanding of the term “cabin fever” and the days seemed to drag on and on and on.
So there I was with a 6 month-old baby, in a tiny house, 40 miles from town, with a limited gas budget. I was bored out of my ever-loving mind and pretty miserable.
Do I still feel that way. Nope. In fact, I couldn’t feel further from that, at this point in my life. I pretty much did a 180 degree flip from where I used to be. I crave being home now, and there’s no other place I’d rather be.
So what changed?
I found my passion. Plain and simple. And homesteading, AND the loneliness that came with it at first, was the catalyst which allowed me to do so.
Living rurally, with its slower days and fewer options, is a gift. A slower life gives you the space and freedom for creation. It offers the mental clarity to start deciphering your passions and your greater purpose.
If I had never removed myself from the hustle and bustle of my old life and its distractions, I likely never would have had the mental space to find my bigger passion (which is teaching others how to return to their roots, break through blocks, and expand their skillsets, in case you were curious). That particular passion then morphed into helping people take charge of their health with essential oils as well. Interestingly enough, thanks to my businesses, I now have the privilege to connect with thousands and thousands of people on a regular basis. In fact, I find myself needing regular “people breaks” these days so I can be sure to stay refreshed and recharged. Hmmmm… funny how that works.
The formula that started it all was:
A Bored Jill + An Excess of Time + Internet Connection = Discovering a Life’s Passion
Now don’t misunderstand– I’m not necessarily saying starting your own business or writing a blog will be YOUR thing, (although it could be), but I encourage you to dig deep and figure out what makes you tick. What keeps you awake at night? What makes you excited more than anything else? It might take you a while to identify it, but I’m willing to venture figuring it out will change your life in amazing ways.
You just never know what might happen…
Other Strategies for Battling Homestead Loneliness
While using the quietness of a rural homesteading life to find your passion was definitely my remedy to loneliness, if you’re a more people-oriented person or an extrovert, you’ll still want to be intentional with finding times to connect with other humans. Here are a few other anti-loneliness ideas for ya:
Ride Out the Transition Period
The common thread I saw running through all the responses I read from formerly-lonely homesteaders last week was that the initial transition period to country-living is the hardest. The adjustment was tough at the beginning, but as people found their passions and immersed themselves in their new lifestyle, they found contentment. So if you just barely started your homesteading journey, take heart– it gets easier.
Make the Effort
It might take more effort to stay connected, but it’s still possible. If you’re used to having everything just steps from your front door, rural-living will be an adjustment. But as long as you’re willing to put forth the effort, there are still plenty of ways to stay connected in neighboring towns. Church, clubs, sports, and other activities don’t have to stop. If you’re short on funds or driving is difficult, designate one day per week as “town day” and schedule all appointments, meetings, lessons, and errands on that one day. I know many rural folks who are still very connected in their neighboring towns, they just spend a little more time on the road.
Build Long-Distance Connections
It may sound silly, but having an Internet connection was my saving grace during the early years. Facebook and email helped me stay connected with many far-away friends, and I heavily depended on it. And NO– I don’t think internet relationships are a substitute for the real thing, and face-to-face time is still important. HOWEVER. I found my online connections to be invaluable, and many of them have morphed into real-life relationships as the years have passed.
Think Outside of the Box
Even the most rural areas still have a smattering of neighbors. (I define a neighbor as anyone in a 30 mile radius of us…) Our closest town has a population of 200, no stop lights, and no gas station (it burned down…), but you’d be surprised at how many people I’ve connected with there. If there aren’t activities or programs, maybe you’ll be the one to create them. Invite people over for supper, invite people over to help with projects (projects always help break the ice– especially cool ones like processing chickens), start your own groups or clubs, etc. The possibilities really are endless.