Last post of February and before Lent starts!
Have you ever felt lonely? Not being alone in the physical sense but a detached aloofness as if no one understood. I believe most of us have experienced loneliness in one of its many different forms. I myself am well acquainted with a cold, empty feeling in my gut, often manifesting as a hunger that no amount of food can satiate. After all, research suggests that hunger is the body’s way of telling me that I should seek out company as eating has remained a social activity throughout evolution. (fun fact)
It is an easy choice dismissing loneliness as merely a nagging negative thought, or an emotion one should not feel, especially when surrounded by people. However, everyone’s feelings should be valid and research has shown loneliness to negatively impact mental health. It not only causes increased levels of stress and depression, but also decreased memory and learning. Loneliness can also affect physical health by disrupting sleeping patterns, leading to more daytime fatigue and a weaker immune system. These effects barely constitute the tip of the iceberg of problems brought about by loneliness.
What if I were to tell you now that we create our own loneliness? We are the ones painstakingly building the invisible walls that keep emotions in and care from others out. Perhaps this is our way of avoiding judgement, our attempt to fit into a community of seemingly perfect, happy people; perhaps this is how some of us, as children of Asian families, were brought up, to be stoic, silent, to be seen and never heard.
Though C.S. Lewis wrote in the preface of his book Surprised by Joy, ‘a man seldom mentions what he had supposed to be his most idiosyncratic sensations without receiving from one (often more) of those present the reply, “What! Have you felt that too? I always thought I was the only one.”’, I believe this is highly dependant on the audience one can reach out to. Opening up to people can allow us to relate to others, and others to us, forging connectedness. On the other hand, multiple attempts to connect with the same community may simply be a waste of time if both sides are travelling on wavelengths that will never meet. Reaching out to an unsuitable crowd could lead one to feel increased isolation when there is no indication of understanding post-sharing. Instead, one could widen social circles to include relatable people from diverse walks of life, whose paths we may not normally intersect. However, this does not totally eradicate loneliness as occasional pangs of the disconcerting disengagement will still hit as one stands among a crowd of one’s own peers, none of whom one can understand or be understood by.
Humans, as highly intellectual beings, cannot help being aware of the infinite spectrum of experiences which divides us, being aware of how no one can completely understand another. This awareness is the reason loneliness is an inevitable feeling. However, there will be different people who can understand certain fragments of our lives better than others and in those people we can seek solace and comfort.
Loneliness may cause us to think we want to disappear when all we really want is to be found. Sure, it is easy to urge others to emerge from these illusive havens and seek out others instead of waiting for others to find them but I do understand how tiring it can be and how futile our efforts can seem and I am here to tell you that you, if you relate to this post, you are not alone.
I edited the original post to say how I truly felt instead of my approved speech which did end badly. Today happened to be an emotionally eventful day, leading to trembling as I was delivering my speech, perhaps causing my audience to believe I was overly emotional and agitated over a taboo topic. It definitely left me feeling very vulnerable and not getting the highest number of votes further egged on my insecurities as there could only be two explanations for the voting results. Either no one bothered hearing any of the speeches and voted based on reputation, leaving me to sigh at the heart I poured into this, or I simply was not good enough. I’m not sure which is worse and I really do want to disappear now. Oops!
Life update: Attended my first Ash Wednesday mass, hopefully we will see a Lent 2017 blog post soon 😉 I have also identified my confirmation sponsor 🙂