Monday, June 18, 2012

You're Never Alone in Feeling Lonely

Is Loneliness the New Human Condition?

Differentiating Loneliness from Simply Being Alone

My feelings of loneliness and accompanying depression have been overwhelming throughout the day and just continue to build as the evening goes on. As much as I attempt to skirt around the issue and discuss broader topics that moderately relate I decided that perhaps the only way to come to terms with it is to face it directly. Considering the prevalence of this problem in my life at the moment I have chosen a number of quotes that I feel seek to explain and normalize being alone and feeling lonely. Each quote provides a different bit of insight that collectively form a relatively cohesive and comforting message.

While I have felt rather lonely all day it seems to be a pattern that my sadness and loneliness becomes intensified at night. The following Hemingway quote identifies this pattern as being rather normal and not unique to me-

"I know the night is not the same as the day: that all things are different, that the things of the night cannot be explained in the day, because they do not then exist, and the night can be a dreadful time for lonely people once their loneliness has started."

- Ernest Hemingway

This next quote speaks to the normalcy and acceptableness of feeling "lost" or alone as long as you actively create a plan for yourself in order to escape these feelings. There have been many times when I just feel lost- I don't know where to go, what to do, or who to turn to. But apparently these uncomfortable feelings which are too frequently accompanied with hopelessness are ok as long as I make the effort to escape from this negative space rather than dwell in it-

"There's nothing terribly wrong with feeling lost, so long as that feeling precedes some plan on your part to actually do something about it. Too often a person grows complacent with their disillusionment, perpetually wearing their 'discomfort' like a favorite shirt."

- Jhonen Vasquez

The final quote I have chosen speaks directly to the title of this specific post- as lonely as we may feel we must remember that we are never alone in our feelings. When we are by ourselves and stuck in our own heads it is too easy to convince ourselves that we are losers, pathetic, and exceptional in our feelings of loneliness. However, all of these self-debilitating classifications are lies. In our contemporary world of increasing mobility, technology, and media based interaction being alone and feelings of isolation and loneliness are actually on the rise. The best way to think about our own loneliness and its relation to others is to try and turn it around as the following quote implies-

“When so many are lonely as seem to be lonely, it would be inexcusably selfish to be lonely alone.” 

- Tennessee Williams

It seems as if the majority of our society is dealing with loneliness and struggling with alone time at some point or another. So the question is if so many of us are feeling this way and seeking companionship or friendship why do we remain alone? William's quote may indeed have some validity. Maybe it's our duty to reach out to a friend, acquaintance, or complete stranger and start a conversation, organize a get together, simply interact. Perhaps if we want company strongly enough we can a start a trend that connects people and reduces the mass number of lonely people. The interaction can be very fundamental and even somewhat impersonal. I think Marilyn Monroe actually puts it best- 

"It's often just enough to be with someone. I don't need to touch them. Not even talk. A feeling passes between you both. You're not alone."

- Marilyn Monroe

It doesn't need to be super complicated. Just the simple presence of another human being can help alleviate painful feelings associated with loneliness.

I know this has been a lengthy post but it has served to help me slightly and I only hope that something you came across offered some guidance or insight for you as well.

Please remember you're never truly alone,

There's always company and activity at a busy Parisian cafe (or a local Starbucks which is clearly more feasible..)

Downtown, Petula Clark

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