Is company a distraction from loneliness?

Am I more happy in the company of other people – that is, friends and family – than I am alone?

Yes and no.

My teen self would have been more favorable to a ‘no’.

But – since having moved from home – ironically (or self-evidently), I’ve shed some of my arrogance and come to acknowledge the importance of those who know you and regard you as friend or family – and that self-isolation will do you no good.

Living by yourself provides you with the taste of adult loneliness that you took for granted as young.

In the company of others (though, always depending on what kind of company since I am an introvert at my core) I’m more cheery, more sassy-mouthed, likely presenting a version of myself that few see and all my parents ever see. I don’t think my parents know my quiet, melancholy self that well because I mostly keep up a cheery facade in front of them; to even out the bitter atmosphere they mostly inhabit. To make them forget their antipathy towards each other and make them smile for a while. So very childish. So very human. And yet, I know; I know my whole existence is based on keeping something in place. Something that was probably never there in the first place. Maybe I’m too superstitious. Too dramatic. Too conceited. To think I can be tainted by that. That I came to this world on a wrong premise; something tainted in my core. That I wasn’t meant for this world, but life came and found me. And thus I can never rid myself of that little black spot. It will sneak its way through my armor. Manifesting itself in the little things, against my will. An ugliness that’s part of me. Keeping everyone at a small distance, unwittingly or not, no matter how close I otherwise get to someone. And yet, there’s nothing unique, nothing special about that. And I don’t want it to be. It’s just…there. I realize that now. I don’t have to say it out loud.

The question is: Do I like myself when I’m with other people?

Not an easy question to answer.

I think, at times, I forget myself when I’m with others. A good thing, perhaps. Healthy even. But it’s also two-faced.

I distract myself from my own faults; covering them with arrogance; that others should be more agreeable towards my countenance, my ideas and points of views. But likability is not a self-given, no matter how ‘entertaining’ a characteristic of your personality you present. In the case of the relationship with my parents, there are other matters that come between us (as I’ve relayed one time too many times, I think *sighs*), but I have this irrational fear that no matter how close I become to anyone that they will have this ambivalent opinion of me; of being both witty and entertaining, but also attention-seeking, a little too eager to comment, a little know-it-all, a little childish and irritating all in all. I’m not saying that a person can and should only be one thing, but I’m always caught in this awful paradox of wanting to be myself in every shape and form and never wanting to make those closest to me, my dearest ones, slowly grow more and more tired of me and, eventually, needing to get away from me.

Remember the thing about INTPs just wanting, deep down, to be liked? Well, all humans do, I guess, and the fear of being abandoned is even more universal. But having this ingrown and, frankly, silly and stubborn need to stay independent and ‘unblemished’, if you like, by attachments (that I sense is particularly essential to every INTP) clashes with the core need of being liked. By being liked, you have to step out of that stubborn, prideful and fearful shell of being alone in everything. ‘No man is an island’. It is true. Not in the sense that we aren’t all islands in some sense; we are born alone and die alone, but that island doesn’t have to stay forever secluded simply because loneliness is a fact in life.

As lonely as I am – as we all are – I am also the creator of my own loneliness.

Even loneliness can be a distraction from loneliness itself. By isolating myself from myself, so to speak. In that sense, company is a distraction from loneliness. Not entirely, but it quells the loneliness for a bit. Either that or I distract myself by escaping into books, music, etc…. well, you’ve heard it all before. Because in the loneliness also exists a crumpling self-pity and thus a self-hatred. It’s the only thing I hate myself for: the self-pity. And I pity myself for hating and pitying myself. As I’ve said before; it’s a vicious cycle one cannot easily break away from. I stop pitying myself by distracting myself. By diving into someone else’s mind and emotions, into fiction and music. It’s only when I am alone with my own thoughts that it all returns.

And in return I feel guilty that I cannot find a way to distract myself less selfishly. Less demonstratively isolated, in body or in mind. Or both. Though my need to give is great, I have no idea how to go about it because I’m entirely awkward when it comes to such interpersonal actions, to give emotional and physical comfort on wholly practical and emotional matters, and because I’m afraid and it’s easier to hide away than to reach out a hand and risk hurting or getting hurt. I try where I can, but most of the time I do hide away. And so I’m in a weird conundrum, battling an inner battle where I feel self-pity and then scold myself for it, because there are people who have it worse, much worse, and I have literally all the privileges. All the luck.

Haven’t I…?

I get so angry with myself, the world, the human existence sometimes: Why isn’t it enough? Why do I have certain needs for human interaction when I would rather be free of these needs? They shouldn’t matter that much. They shouldn’t be able to crumble my innermost self at times; everything I’ve tried so hard to build up over the years. The self-security. And yet…

Yet, I hate that I have to numb myself, numb my feelings in order to keep this desolation at bay. To become unfeeling. To be this hard on myself.

It shouldn’t be like this. It shouldn’t be the only option. I don’t want to not to feel. But I don’t know how to feel any longer.

To only have a rational grip on these matters. It isn’t enough. Why isn’t it enough? …

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It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.

“I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”

— Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

I have come past yet another self-discovery, though the revelation itself is perhaps not so strange since it has hid in the subtext of many other discoveries I have come across on my path.

Like Alice… in Wonderland.

It hit me one evening when I asked myself – for the umpteenth time – why I seem to have no life. Really. And I realized it may be because I never had a life to begin with. It has not so much to do with self-pity as it is simply an objective observation:

I have always prided myself with having an independent and original mind (obvious throughout this blog, I think), but, in reality, my independence has lived off my dependence on others, and my original personality/mind has lived off all the influences around me. (Nothing new under the sun and rather cliché. And, after all, I can never be totally without some level of uniqueness. None of us can.)

But I believe I, so far, have lived a life of a sort of parasitical child – in badly need to grow up! A child who cannot, for the life of me, express emotions maturely – hardly even objectively (I cannot seem to overcome my literal tongue-tiedness)!

In part delusional innocence and part daily-reality-phobia, I’ve fed off the experiences, feelings and stories of others – whether those people have been real-life or fictional. Thus the constant and spineless immersion in fictional narratives and music – to substitute the numb emotions within – and warding off responsibilities in real-life (mostly those to myself).

*sighs* If I indeed suffer from some sort of Peter Pan-syndrome, I’d really like to have it diagnosed for being just that. Then I have a real excuse to shed my responsibilities and go find Neverland. (Hmm. Step up from Wonderland?)… Joke aside.

I am most likely just a maladaptive dreamer.

Have I ever felt empty and aimless when the pages run out or these ‘other people’ stop talking and showing me their lives and I can no longer immerse myself in their liveliness? Yes, perhaps I have. Perhaps I repress it by immersing myself further into something else, such as my imagination (Lewis Carroll wrote it: “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality”). Which again continues to supplant reality or what I cannot seem to have in my own daily reality. Something I am too cowardly to reach out and grasp fully myself.

Arrogantly, I have convinced myself that life is bigger than anything as ‘trivial’ as the daily, material matters of my own here and now. Bigger in a sense of metaphysics. I have a vast universe in my head that I need to discover and fill out with knowledge. Dealing with my own reality heads-on always seems so exhausting, transient and unreliable. I have no control there. I cannot predict the outcome in situations where my emotions feel most at stake but where they are often abandoned, even by myself, because I am no closer to understand them. So, of course, a subtle disappointment has run throughout every action, though I have not failed to see the benefit from most of them. Failures and flaws give life a color beyond compare, because they are what constitute you as a human; your unique you. I have learned from every action and that I have taken as a blessing, you could say.

But still the disappointment, the emptiness has rung hollow within; an undercurrent settling in my gut as I have become more and more aware of life; of all the things I have lived through compared to all the things I likely or may never will. The sense of excitement and curiosity of getting to know what lies ahead has slowly been quelled by every underlying disappointment connecting; a frightening numbness setting in. Tastes turned to ashes in my mouth.

And I immerse myself in all the constructed narratives and emotions to bar out, to hush the raging numbness, silence and solitude-turned-loneliness I live in and come home to every day.

Solitude. My once so trusted friend has been possessed by loneliness; become the Babadook of my mind; a ghost haunting for the purpose of terror rather than company. And I have been its very maker. It is the Frankenstein of my creation; a ‘safe’ theory of ‘companionship’ that my mind latched on to, settled for – anything compared to the real thing; of having no companionship at all. A theory that turned into a being of its own once the egg was hatched; a being that became a monstrosity because it was still unsatisfied with its existence and blamed me. Because life isn’t easy. It was never meant to be.

Maybe it is the strange, little but significant events that have occurred to me within the last couple of years (I may have mentioned some of them here and there, but I don’t imagine you’ll know what I’m talking about and I cannot go into them right now) and likely set off my depression. If indeed my depression has been lying in wait for this – or if it really is a depression and not just an odd restlessness or lazy down-spiraling of one defense mechanism succeeding another. And, as I said, burying myself in fiction and imaginative feelings helps me to deflect from my own lonely life as well as this perhaps/perhaps-not-depression. A sort of silly ‘coping escapism’ you are more likely to find in some (dark) children’s novel. And despite what I may have learned from these significant events, they have also left tiny, superficial scars in my heart; invisible to the naked eye; slowly accumulating over the years, forming a dark little cloud around it where the sun peeps in every now and then, desperate to emerge fully. I can empathize with others who go through something similar on a daily basis, yet I cannot begin to compare myself to what others feel on totally different levels and maybe I’m not supposed to. Maybe I’m allowed to have this, to feel this, accept it and then find a way out of the fog, somehow.

(Have I become my own therapist?)

All utter nonsense, perhaps. Or, perhaps not? How can anyone answer that but myself? And how can I when it feels like it takes several epiphanies, some life-changing experiences and a lifetime to answer that?

Again, I’m at a loss. At war in my mind. I seek immediate answers I can only gain through time. And time moves both slowly and unpredictably. And then it’s over before you know it.

And again, I haven’t dared to move and grab hold of some part of my reality and truly make it mine; claim it as mine. I have been too cowardly to do it. Perhaps because I feel, deep down, that there’s something too good about life that I do not deserve? I feel blessed and cursed at the same time, and I’m ashamed of feeling cursed; of appearing ungrateful of what I’ve been given; my inability to make better use of what I have and seize the day. I mostly just seize the day to write about life and consume others’ experiences of it, not experiencing it myself nearly as fully as I could. Imprisoned by myself or my inability to do something about it. Is that a life of a writer? I doubt it. And yet, many people imprisoned; physically, institutionally or mentally, have written all throughout history, have they not? Some of the greatest writer have been imprisoned in some way or another, perhaps not directly enabling their writing but channeling it.

Perhaps I can make do with what I have worked myself into?

My writing may be as delusional as it may be cathartic; a circle of self-serving excuses; where fear of pity and perfection mixes in a blend as sinister as the river Styx I have to pay Charon with everything precious I possess to cross.

I return time and time again to a crossroad and I wonder if there is a me in this world and another me in another world and I wonder how often they will coincide in this harsh, bright, beautiful existence I have been given. Or if one will truly emerge with the other and – in that case – which one? And I wonder how many feels the same?

I want to override the consistent self-pity and shame, knowing how silly and unproductive these feelings are, but first I must escape the gripping loneliness from within and around and it is not so easily overcome. My stubborn independence does not help. I still return to myself. I have scolded myself with every line possible and every tone of voice to see the effects, to self-motivate, and yet, it has not helped (unsurprisingly). I have written and drawn and opened up more to those around me, strangers even. Yet, I still come home to myself and myself alone; the loneliness waiting there.

How is something like that overcome? I cannot seem to allow myself to reach for twosomeness, perhaps because I am so conflicted by its very concept. Equally afraid and hopeful. My mind is always one step ahead; one foot in the positive scenario, another in the negative one. All I see is the 50/50 chances and I cannot predict my luck nor my misfortune. ‘That’s human’, ‘that’s life’; god don’t I know ‘it’s bloody life!’ and yet, it does nothing to answer what I am to do. To wait and let it run its course? Sure, I’ve done nothing else. But as Charlotte Brontë once stated: “The trouble is not that I am single and likely to stay single, but that I am lonely and likely to stay lonely.”

But what is life if not lonely and wild, fantastical and quiet?

Meanwhile, I’ll return to a segment of Carroll’s iconic story that speaks to something quintessential in me:

“She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it), and sometimes she scolded herself so severely as to bring tears into her eyes; and once she remembered trying to box her own ears for having cheated herself in a game of croquet she was playing against herself, for this curious child was very fond of pretending to be two people. ‘But it’s no use now,’ thought poor Alice, ‘to pretend to be two people! Why, there’s hardly enough of me left to make one respectable person!'”

*revised 23/6/17*

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How insignificant such a little thing can seem and how significant it can be

I’m very fond and grateful for my close INFP friend whom I’ve previously mentioned, yet I cannot help feeling somewhat left out in some essential aspects, because I often find myself in the position of (once again) being the listener and the helper, rarely the other way around. She does ask how I’m doing from time to time but rarely probes any further, and I know I’m no good at talking about my feelings, opting for the dismissive, self-deprecating way of dealing with such matters – though, in truth, it covers a desperate cry for help or just a listening, committed ear. However, despite all our years of friendship where I’ve tried to listen, help and learn about her, she has not detected this essential aspect of me (just like my parents and family … ain’t life funny, huh?), much less detected a certain other significant happening in my life, despite it was around the beginning of our friendship where we practically lived together. But it’s not just her. Of course it’s not just her; really, I cannot blame her.

And it leaves me wondering if I’ll remain the puzzle INTPs are so famous of being, despite showing myself, listening and opening myself up; never doubting my own worth or originality? Or if I’m really just so uninteresting? Forever the wallflower? Or that I’m somehow too confusing? I feel like screaming like Jane Eyre. Do they all honestly know me so little? Do they think I’m confident enough to deal with things my own way, so they don’t have to care? Do they think that I’m am unemotional cardboard character who can deflect worries with a witty intellect and a smile, never getting truly struck or depressed by anything? That I don’t have real, profound, lasting feelings and worries of my own?!

My parents haven’t given my feelings much trust and credit through the years, that’s for sure. But the formers are hardly experts or idols to inspire to in that department either. Yet, it does something significant to one’s self-perspective. That’s maybe partly why I have tried to detach myself from my parents. I was never shown the overall sympathetic acknowledgement and respect for my feelings (basically because my parents never really understood feelings or how to handle them properly; they just pretended to and smiled awkwardly), thus, now, in my adulthood I have a hard time showing them the amount of acknowledgement and respect for their feelings that they probably expect or should be given. I just can’t. I see and know of their internal ‘suffering’, but after all these years of dealing only with their inner, self-involved, projected bitterness to each other and all and sundry I’m too exhausted, too selfish to help, empathize or worry on behalf of them anymore. On the other hand, being their child and loving them, I can never not worry about what their feelings do to them, exhausting me as well, but I honestly wonder whether they have ever cared or wondered about my feelings for more than a couple of minutes or hours. After all, do they even know me? I’m not sure. Then what can they worry about (besides the usual superficialities about my getting a job or a house or enough money etc.), making whatever it is they come up with about them and their own guilt? Jeez. Can you see why I cannot deal with them?

And all of this just hurts all the more, because I feel I invest myself the best I can in people, despite all my shortcomings in dealing with emotions and that I do it in, perhaps, rather unconventional ways. I guess I am a misunderstood creature, after all. But I refuse to be blinded by my own flaws and only wallow in self-absorbed pity parties. I want to understand what and why, thus this post. I know I could do more for the people around me – hell, you can always do more! – but at least I am not spiteful against the human race; I am open and constructive-critical at the same time, I do not seek to judge or dismiss the feelings of others before I’ve heard the reasons behind them and even then I will try to take them into account. I can see and I know people feel and suffer and worry, no matter what they say otherwise, and I acknowledge all this, worry about what it will do to them personally and interpersonally, always feeling on behalf of them and wanting to help. Yet, it never reflects on me more than couple of brief moments that I can count on one hand. I’m not greedy or ungrateful, I only ask for such simple, basic, human things that I’ve never received for myself, only given. Am I still making this about me? Probably, but all I want is to understand the two-way street of interaction and various relationships and why I always feel left out in some way.

I do not understand that no matter what I do I can never seem to reach the goal so many others have reached at some point in their lives; finding a sense of prolonged belonging and understanding with someone else beyond oneself, family and friends. Especially, since I do it my way and, lately, I’ve opened myself more up to those around me, gaining confidence (or just jaded nonchalance aka ‘so far nothing has happened, so why not just let it go?’), balancing my life between my antics and introversion and meeting the world the best I can, yet I seem to fall right back into the patterns of old. I’ve done everything one should or can in terms of one’s self-image; I am myself, staying true to myself and open to the world, no matter how depressed, cynic or romantic I become. I cannot help that I’m no good with interpersonal and social superficialities – which I try to accept and overcome in my own way – because I simply and silently care about them: The people themselves and their inner beings; what effects their thoughts, feelings and actions have on themselves and others. How to show them this without putting on a show of stilted theatrics or compromising my own integrity? I do my best to inquire and learn and listen in order to show my interest and care for them without going about it the usual way. Again; picking up the phone, remembering birthdays, gossipping, giving gifts, go clubbing and getting drunk, talking about boys and clothes, platitudes and trivial matters in order to show that I care and am a good friend is not really my thing. I am simply here. In the literal and non-literal sense, if you like; always here to lend an open, but critical ear, give thoughts about the world, advice and guide without necessarily leading or expecting anything in return. However, I do hope for the latter. Not credit or even gratitude, just a reflection of genuine care and interest beyond the bonds of blood or returned pleasanties. Someone to react on impulse. Again, I am human; a three-dimensional person with my own life, needs, thoughts and feelings. I demand only so little, yet oh so significant sentiments in return.

Still, I’m left bereft. So strange never to have been touched just for me, held my hand – anything. How significant such a little thing can be. I sometimes fear nothing and no one (perhaps beyond myself and my sister) grounds me to this world and I will one day lift from the ground and fly upwards, vanishing into the thin air, leaving no significant trace behind. Not forgotten, but never that memorable either. Never to have played a vital role in anybody’s life. Never made an emotional impact beyond having been a friend, daughter, sister and niece. Not that those aren’t important or worth living for, but I cannot help myself thinking there must be more to life, especially since my sense of belonging is so limited in those above roles, in the first place. I have heard people with depression and suicidal thoughts mirror this sentiment, and though I may have a tendency to depression and self-pity, I could never off myself since I only have myself. I’m simply baffled by life – no more than any of you – but cannot help stating the facts and feeling left perplexed by them. In my logical INTP mind they do not make sense, but my mind also persists in rationalizing the world and making it into a chess game where everything must be balanced through causality. Yet, reality is rarely so. I cannot expect to receive or meet interest and understanding on the same level as I feel like giving.

I give in the amounts I am able and hope to one day receive in kind, and I imagine the rest. Yes, adventure and great love would be grand, but honestly, (and yeah, it may sound weird) because of my vivid imagination and the world of fiction, I have no greater need to explore the world (more than I already have) like so many of my peers who have interrailed and trekked foreign countries on their own in order to find themselves. I don’t necessarily believe one can find what one seeks by going out and about. One could easily find what one seeks by seeing what’s right in front of one’s nose. Besides, one does not necessarily have to find oneself outside oneself; you have to bring it as well, I believe. Or maybe you already have it, you just don’t know? The argument is at least 50/50. Some gain and develop by outwardly exploring the world, others don’t. The former may find grand adventure and meet many people, but at some point they’ll have to return home (unless they don’t return and likely are running away from something), often to discover their problems remain the same and within. Others seek inwards first of all, and say all you like about that, but seeking outwards isn’t per definition a better solution. Just like being social and partying doesn’t necessarily mean you are or feel less alone. I believe parties are often loneliness (if not happiness) exploded; an entropy of loneliness in the most basic, human form.

However, I also know I cannot get to know people if I do not meet them. My loneliness cannot surprise me that much, after all, but to rectify it I must do so in my own tempo, step by step; take what comes (and never settle). It just never seems to be my day. I wonder if it’s something intrinsic – rather than mere lazy cowardice – within the INTP (or maybe it’s just me) to not actively seek out human affection but to stay and wait for it to come to me? Maybe because we/I feel – or I rationalize it into the notion – that I don’t have the right to force my selfish need upon others? Also, given the fact that none so far has responded when I have opened up and been myself, my rationalizing has taken a step further and concluded that ‘why should anyone respond any differently in the future?’. Yes, I’ve grown partly cynic, but on the other hand, I can never quench my incessantly, persisting, sappy hope of a potential soulmate(s) out there. My self-pity takes root in this as well as my carelessness. There’s never just one side. It’s always two-faced. I have accepted that this inner battle is a significant part of adulthood.

Perhaps it’s my darn ‘chessplayer brain’ again; with lightning speed, it has taken almost every situation in life into account beforehand, inserting me in every possibility and mercilessly ruled me out of those in which I logically would not happen to come across or fit. Thus, unconsciously, I’ve already reconciled myself with the possibility that there are aspects of life that I’ll likely never have or experience (just like I know which ones I can achieve on my own), but then I ask myself if I have even tried to prove my brain wrong? Yes, somewhat, I’ve just not been very lucky in achieving evidence to the contrary. Once again: Brain, 1-0. Yes, I know, it’s sounds pretty daft to be in contest with your own brain/rationale, right? Maybe only you INTPs out there will understand this. If not, then I’m certified bat-shit crazy. But you see, very little has happened in my life and with a analyzing, rationalizing brain like mine – and I believe, that of an INTP – you remember every little, seemingly insignificant incident in your life that was less than favourable and/or confusing. It’s unavoidable not to take them into account to try and analyze past deeds and interactions in order to conclude something of your life and coming future. Whatever I fancy myself to imagine, my harsh inner realist tells me it’s still only imagination and not real.

Thus, my conclusions come to an ambivalent end. I’ve have nothing to truly complain about that I cannot do something about myself and yet, I still feel something is missing. Something essential that I see others have or have experienced at some point. I try to tell myself that I have something they don’t and maybe I do, but will it ever compensate for what life’s really about? Perhaps not. And (self)pity will do me no good, I know. It’s one of the least attractive traits you can have, so I try and banish it with self-deprecation, knowing full well that it only screams louder of my inner conflict and everyone or no one might hear it. And it doesn’t exactly help that my brain keeps telling me that I’m far from the only one who longs for this, that I cannot even allow myself to complain about this, that I’m so damn lucky, spoilt and privileged compared to those in greater misfortune than I. And I know this, but I have no alternative to cling to once this obvious fact has been stated.

*sighs heavily*

It seems I always end up right back where I started.

Maybe I haven’t tried enough? Taken enough chances? But I honestly don’t know what else I can do, when all I have ever done is being myself!? I do not believe I haven’t lived or tried or taken chances, though I know I could probably have taken more (but then again, you can always take more). I will not budge from staying true to myself – and though no one said you should, so far it hasn’t really proven masterfully rewarding. My stubborn independence will perhaps always be my vice, rendering me unlucky in certain aspects of life that others stumble more ‘easily’ upon. I sometimes wish for a fruitful collision of sorts, but real-life is not like a movie script and you mostly need luck and coincidence for such happenings which you cannot exactly buy at the supermarket. So what does my rationale conclude? That if I cannot ever control what happens in life, all I can do is just be, exist and wait for it to show itself in its usual, random ways. Not much to build ambitions and expectations around, you see? So, ironically, in spite of these lengthy, self-involved posts I write here, I mostly shrug and say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t say’ whenever someone ask me what I think my future will bring, what I want to be, where and with whom I see myself in 5 or 10 years, etc. etc.. Yes, the smalltalk quickly runs short on the subject of me and the awkward silence endures.

In continuation with my previous posts about realizing that I probably never had or ever will find understanding and true belonging within the family (besides my sister, of course) and friends of the family, this has already been emphasized about three times since last summer. I’ve parcipated in at least two large family and friends gatherings where I knew most of the people attending and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alone and alienated in my life. If my sister hadn’t been there as well, I think I would have gone mad! Some instances have been better than others and I’m fortunately armoured with a robust patience, but it really wears thin when it’s confirmed again and again just how little in common I have with so many people that is of my blood and relation. Well, nobody said blood instantly equals a deeper sense of belonging and mutual understanding (rather than pity), but this is close to ridiculous, because I’ve rarely felt so estranged than from my own family! I’ve received more genuine interest from friends of family members than the members themselves! Well, one side of the family, in particular. I’ve tried to be patient and listen, even be so daring to voice my opinion and try to discuss things with them but been quietly rebuffed each time, like I was invisible (story of my life). I seriously consider ranting about one particular incident with this side of the family that left me so utterly miffed and indignant, but partly thanks to my stupid naivety I still keep telling myself that this was just a one-time thing, despite having been proved otherwise multiple times. And an emotional rant about a personal incident would be no good. I have too many feelings about this particular episode, I’m not sure it would be a good idea to even begin a summary.

Anyways …

So what do I want? Someone to wallow in my depressive self-pity with? No, I just want a companion. To be seen. Really seen. And understood, not pitied. It’s such a pathetic, slushy request – perhaps even mundane in all its universality – but the one thing I ache for in life more than anything else, I think. I try to think of instances, often fleeting moments, where I believe I’ve been seen (or seen someone else), but I come up short. If so, they were gone too quickly, never to be realized. So you see, I roam this earth alone; my attachment to it seems ethereal. And yet, it doesn’t make me anymore special than any of you or other lonely souls out there. It’s a human condition, I believe.

Only … those who have found a companion, have they/you not cut an edge off that encompassing loneliness, because it is now shared by two? Have you not been grounded to the world through understanding, touch and even love from another human being by your side? Even if it did or will not last, at least you were so lucky to have experienced it. I envy that. So far my life has persistently diverted from such happenings to the point where I begin to wonder whether it will ever truly happen or if it’s all only in fiction. So, (until then, if ever), I dive into fiction to get my fix. Sad but true. (Please tell me I’m not the only one). It may all just be a phase until ‘real-life’ hits me after this summer where I’m finished at uni and need to get a job and a life. I cannot honestly say what is going to happen or what I can or will do to make whatever it is happen – other than what one would normally and sensibly do. You follow? Hm, not sure I do either.

So that’s that.

PS. If you got absolutely nothing out of this post, it’s fine. I’m not sure I did either, apart from getting to vent a bit. Hope the next one will have a slightly more sunny prospect.

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Thoughts about the past, the present and the future

I wonder if loneliness felt all the more encompassing before the benefit of modern technology? More than it does now?

Or if those same communicative possibilities at present day have enabled another but no less significant kind of loneliness?

Most likely the last one. Spike Jonze’s “Her” certainly showed a future dealing with those exact matters. A scaringly close and all too realistic future – if it is not already here in some form: Our ‘personal’ computers, tailor-made operating systems, i-this and i-that in every product title. People looking down at the face of their screen rather than up at the faces of the people around them.

And I’m right there among them. Perhaps not with my phone glued to my hand (I rarely use it in public, actually), but to my computer, interacting more with it than with any person I know. I’m close to addicted; getting frustrated when I cannot get to my computer, yet briefly liberated when I’m forced away from it (on vacations etc.) and yet again relieved when I return home to it. Almost as if it was a toxic relationship; not quite love nor hate nor both, but simply an addiction. I’m sure I could manage a ‘rehab’ but I’m not all for it either. And I’m far from the only one. Whether that addiction is good or bad is still vehemently debated, but it does little to the fact that we are all but fully connected to/immersed with our technology, the digital sphere and the Internet in practically every corner of society.

How often has our generation not asked ourselves the question: “What did we/I do before the Internet?”

Initially, we laugh it off as a joke, but there’s something eerily nagging in that question still, isn’t there?

Because if we honestly cannot remember the daily life of a society before our fusion with (online) technology on this scale, what does that tell us of that society and the one we have now – or the one to come?

I do not have the answer – simply because I keep asking this myself. In some ways it becomes closely related to Philip K. Dick and Ridley Scott’s ambiguous questions surrounding replicants in the end of “Blade Runner”: In this close fusion, what is human and what is robot? And what do we even define as human?

That was in the ’80s, seen through a dystopian, futuristic view. Today we could argue we already live in a transhuman world. I’ll recommend reading Donna Haraway’s insanely interesting and relevant essay A Cyborg Manifesto to expand on this thought.

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Loneliness and companionship

I’m a lonely soul and always have been.

But we’re all lonely at heart.

Even in the closest and largest of companies you can feel like the loneliest person on earth – sometimes all the more because of it.

I like to be alone, however. I enjoy my freedom to do as I please, with no judgment, no responsibility or expectations from anyone else but myself. But being alone is not the same as being lonely and knowing nothing else. Something essential is still missing.

I’m so used to people leaving by now; to have lives of their own, to make excuses for not staying or hanging around that I expect they always will. However much I secretly hope they stay a little longer just because they like my company and because I have more than enough sparetime and want to help and listen, I also keep reminding myself that that isn’t possible in the long run. People come and go. So what if they do it a bit quicker and more often in my case? I cannot demand that they should stay, not for me. Not for any selfish reasons. That would just be … selfish. Every human is, after all, always free to go. It’s nothing personal. It’s human.

I can’t even pity myself over that fact any longer.

I’m a hypocrite, however. I’ve made my own excuses to other lonely people who just wanted some company. They were all mostly elderly people of the family and though they were sweet and attentive they mostly kept me around for selfish reasons, just glad to have somebody around, spending most of our time talking about themselves and their nearest surroundings. I gave them my time and my ear, finding their tranquil company relaxing and glad to be able to make them feel less lonely for a while. However, being young and spending that much time with your elders rather than your peers … well, I wasn’t getting as much out of the company as my elders did; that was obvious. Then again, most of my peers at the time gave close to nothing of what I craved in a friendship or companionship – or any kind of ship! Growing up in a small town only leaves you with that many options for equal-minded company. Safe to say, I had few to no friends; the closest ones living in other towns, so we rarely saw each other outside of school.

I’ve always been a lone wolf and still am. Again, not that I can’t be social but I’m left feeling drained and still missing something I don’t know what is. I’m not an attention-seeker but again, a little of the right kind goes a long way. When attention from my peers did come, it was arrogant or indifferent at best or surprised at my presence or being able to astonish them at all. Then they suddenly sucked up to me or used me as their go-to joke in random conversations where I was not otherwise included, before losing interest again. I was forgettable, I guess. Yeah, wallow in my regained self-pity with me for a bit, will ya?

I don’t know if that is the case for other INTPs or just a basic human condition for many introverts. I’m sure I’m not a unique case but it certainly felt so when I looked around among my peers. They clearly wanted something else from life and people than I did and I felt so alienated. My way of thinking felt more mature and though it easily fell into the tranquil patterns of my elders’, I couldn’t identify with them either. They had lived a full life when mine hadn’t even begun. They could reminiscence about people and life in a way I wasn’t able to yet. Their bodies old and fragile, while mine was young and agile; a contrast they often pointed out. Their experienced souls accepting the final stages of life before death, while I was so inexperienced and ready for life; thought myself close to immortal (when you’re young you just do that, right?). When they were embittered about life’s changing ways, I was bursting with its possibilities (how could I not?). And when they were bursting with the life they had lived, I felt myself shrinking with a sense of jealousy of what I hadn’t even encountered as well as becoming excited by the prospect of maybe experiencing it myself. I was always left inspired but not exhilarated. Something vital was still missing.

No, I craved company of the same physical age as me but with a soul and mind not unlike my own. And how did I not know they weren’t there if I didn’t talk to that many of my peers? Well, there are certain situations in life when you are able to point out such equal-minded souls from the crowd and I have yet to personally encounter the few ones I have noticed in a by-passing. A reaction or a look that give away their inner thoughts about the situation; giving them that strange but wholely familiar look of alienation from the rest of the mass. I feel the latter condition of being constantly – which is why I cannot fathom how people cannot feel it as well. They must! At least, every now and then. Maybe they just don’t show it? Maybe it isn’t as visible as I like to believe; perhaps they can’t even see it in me either?

I feel my curious gaze so often linger on whatever lies hidden beneath people during these brief encounters with strangers, but it often isn’t enough. Sometimes I find myself giving up hope before anything is found, though the hope always returns whenever I watch people. Maybe I’m too often looking for something that simply isn’t there. Or maybe they hide it too well. Sometimes it’s too obvious; I can (or think I can) see it in their eyes, in their faces, hear it in their sighs – and I think I feel the pain of everyone suffering; I so do want to relieve them of their silent pain by sharing common ground, without pity but with sympathy. I sometimes think I feel and empathize too much and this weltschmerz becomes too heavy, too dramatic and deepfelt that I must catch my breath and seek away from the crowd. It is a curse lingering to my loneliness.

tbc

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