Been reading an interesting article by Emily White on the topic of loneliness. White has just written a book entitled ‘Lonely: Learning to Live With Solitude’. In it, she argues that talking about and admitting to loneliness, is one of our great remaining taboos. Instead we avoid the topic, lie about being busy or try to fill our time with tasks and noise to disguise what’s underneath.
I saw myself as alone in my aloneness. I figured that, while I was lonely, everyone else was leading satisfying, busy social lives. After all, busy lives – lives full of friends – were what I saw on television, on programmes such as Friends and Sex and the City. Sociability on these shows was presented as something easy to obtain, something any ordinary person could just go out and get.
Loneliness is about much more than having or not having company. In fact, the times I’ve felt most isolated have been when I’ve been surrounded by people but unable to connect. This is sometimes because of the company. We’ve all been on the receiving end of cliques or snubs and it’s not pleasant. But more often than not, I feel lonely because I don’t know how to communicate. I’m worried that I’m weird, unfunny, annoying, insignificant. No-one even knows I’m there. Or perhaps it’s the opposite. I’m trying too hard, too loud, too much and sticking out like a sore thumb.
What’s most striking is that in both cases, I’m just thinking about me. I’m not listening to what other people are saying, nor giving of myself. I imagine that what matters is not other people, but the reflections they mirror back. I’m using them. I’m director, main player and scriptwriter. The story is all about me. There’s no room in my head for anyone else. Then I wonder why I’m feeling er – alone.