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I'm So Lonely It's Making Me Depressed 

Dear Athena, 

I'm so lonely it's making me depressed, and I'm generally a very happy person. All I want to do is find someone, even if it's just a friend, to hang out and share adventures with. My fear is that I come off as so self-sufficient and content with my life that I'm missing out on chances to find friends or potential significant others. I have friends and family, but they all live hours away. I've been wondering how much I can sacrifice my social life and if it's worth giving up a job that I love to be closer to people I already know. I'm at a loss, Athena. Can you offer any advice? 

Signed,

Miss Fiercely Independent

Dear Miss Fiercely Independent,

You know what's great about this problem? You already know what you want: to connect with other people. And to get what you want, all you have to do is be brave and make some changes.

We all know change is hard — and sometimes even scary. But change is good, too. Change is the only thing we can truly count on, and, in that sense, it can be almost comforting. So let's look at the change ahead.

Option 1: You stay here and climb boldly out of your comfort zone to meet fresh new love interests or pals.

Option 2: You move back home, where you already have a strong and supportive social network. But you sacrifice a satisfying career.

If you stick around, it will take some work. You need to get out and take chances with your social life. Respond to an appealing personal ad in this paper. Take an exercise class and make a point to be friendly and outgoing. If you keep smiling at someone at the office, ask him or her out for coffee. Open up to those around you. You don't have to be Miss Fiercely Independent all the time. You're craving intimacy, and reaching out to others is the only way to bring them closer.

If you go back home, your friends and family will most likely fill up what's missing socially. Maybe it will be tough to find work that you enjoy as much as your current job, but perhaps being with those you love is more important.

Whatever you do, remember that getting close to someone won't rob you of your self-sufficiency and independence. You can be who you are and be intimate with others. The right person will dig your free spirit; the right friends will admire your autonomy. I can't tell you which road to choose, but I can tell you to seek change with open arms.

One more thing: If making positive changes doesn't lift your dark cloud, reach out to your doc. You don't have to deal with depression alone.

Yours,

Athena

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