Loneliness comes in many forms—whether you’re in a crowded Shibuya crossing in Tokyo during rush hour, or when you’re driving home alone on the highway, or binge-watching TV shows in bed on a Saturday night, even when you’re among friends and family. Loneliness hits you at unexpected times in the most unexpected hours. It's common and pervasive, but no one talks about it enough. People see loneliness as a taboo, it’s like a shadow that you’re trying to hide in your closet, but you can’t because it keeps following you around.
I’ve been staring at my laptop screen for hours now, switching back and forth between social media apps, looking at what people are doing and wishing I was with them. Thinking why no one asked me out on a Friday night. Thinking why I didn't ask anyone out on a Friday night. It’s like a perennial way of exposing yourself to the fear of missing out. Missing out on people, on moments, on adventures. It breeds envy and unhealthy comparisons, and it seems like people are actually having fun without me. The sad thing is, I am aware of this, of the fallacies that we construct on social media, in which all of us are somewhat responsible for. However, when you are so well-fed with disillusionments, you unconsciously start to believe that they are true.
It’s so easy to feel lonely on nights like these. Sometimes when you tell people that you are, they’ll say “Just shrug it off. Find something to do, make yourself busy.” Then why do I find it so hard? Maybe they’ve never spent an entire night just lying there in bed with a crippling anxiety, thinking of all the failed relationships that lead them to being alone and lonely on that night. Maybe they have. Maybe they’ve had it worse. But the truth is, nobody actually gives a fuck. Some of your friends don't deliberately leave you out, some of your friends just forgot to text you, maybe some of them chose to stay at home themselves.
Sometimes loneliness is not merely about being alone. Sometimes it's about being with someone that feels like a stranger, or about not knowing your place in this world. Sometimes you can’t help but think that your loneliness is a product of your failed relationships, or from deliberately alienating yourself from others.
But sometimes, you do need to be on your own. You should be your own go-to person, your own best friend, that one person you can always rely on. You should know how to be alone because you are still loved even though your anxiety tells you that you’re not. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t leave a room for self-evaluation too. Maybe you even should start re-evaluating yourself, maybe you’re the cause of your loneliness, maybe you are the toxic person in the relationship. Whichever the case, you should always embrace your loneliness.
You should stop deciding whether your emotions are good or bad emotions. A friend once told me that there’s no such thing as a good or bad emotion, having emotions is what makes us human and it’s what we do with it that counts. Some emotions are necessary for you in order to grow. Just like how loneliness helps you grow, teaches you how to be alone, and how to be with yourself. If loneliness puts you in a dark place, then you can’t expect other people to fish you out of there. You’re the only person who can get yourself out of that place. Loneliness feeds itself from your own anxiety and will eventually eat you alive. No matter how much love you’re showered with, no one can make you truly happy but yourself.
If you find yourself watching Vine compilations alone on a Friday night and having self-pity for it, remember that your self-worth is not determined by how many people are close to you or understand you, or how many texts you get on a Friday night asking you to go out, your self-worth is not determined by any kind of relationship at all. It all comes down to how you treat others and how you treat yourself.
I think it’s no one’s job to make other people feel happy, not even your family, your friends, or your significant other. But sometimes it is our job to remind each other that we can be.
Written by: Hanny Mardiyah