Here’s a fun confession from me to you: I am experiencing the worst bout of loneliness I have ever had to endure. And the funny thing about loneliness is, on some physical level, I am alone and it’s only me — little, miserable ol’ me — who’s going to pull myself through to the other, comparably less lonely side. (You would hope, anyway.) Because I am responsible for me and how me feels. And me, if you didn’t already get it from the one hundred times I’ve already said it, is lonely.
To a degree, I’ve felt this echo-y bubble around me before I ever even embarked on my twenties. This weird barrier between how I and the rest of the people around me my age seemed to feel. As a teenager I couldn’t quite pinpoint how exactly my insecurities differed from the norm, but it seemed like there was something there not quite right, because whilst I was crippled with the way I viewed myself, with the way I felt, everyone else seemed to be able to get on with it. Or, at the least, they seemed to be making a far better job of putting themselves out there even if, on the inside, they were struggling too.
A lot of that began to go away when I went to university. The friends I made kept at bay a lot of the bad thoughts and, to a degree, the loneliness. It was still there, lurking, but we filled the void together. They, my friends, were a soft, sometimes tough reminder not to let the negativity win. And even though there were days and weeks where I hit low points, it was better. I was better. University was a real turning point in my self-esteem, too. Although I was and am by no means completely one hundred per cent A-okay, I’ve made a real effort to be kinder to myself since starting university. And, thankfully, to some extent, I don’t think the hard work I put into loving myself will ever fully crumble under any amount of self-scrutiny. The foundations were paved too thick for me to allow that to happen.
But that dark curtain that isolates and heaves me down like a dead weight has returned. Because I’ve left London, I’ve left my friends, I’ve finished my education and it’s taking everything in me to keep hanging on. I didn’t cry when I closed the front door to my student house for the final time or when I held on to one of my best friends who I’d become so used to seeing every morning over her cups of tea and my copious bowls of chocolate cereal. No, the tears didn’t come until I was in my bedroom in my parents house, surrounded by all this stuff that had never fit in it, would never fit in it. Because it was from another life where I had moved forward, where I was better, stronger, free-er. I cried then. And I couldn’t truly explain that feeling of dread if I tried, without sounding ungrateful or complacent.
Because that’s the thing. I am not completely alone. Not in the sense that I don’t have actual, solid people around me. I have family and school friends. I even have a job now. Granted in retail, but a job nonetheless that, day to day, offers actual human interaction. I am not alone physically. But I am lonely. And, somehow, those two things manage to co-exist and it’s really goddamn hard…