Lonely in a crowded room
A room full of people, and I’m trapped in the middle.
Loneliness is often viewed as this state of being physically alone. For me, loneliness is being surrounded by people that you love, and that love you, and yet you feel alone. I’ve felt alone a lot. Sometimes I’m sitting with my friends, laughing at a joke when all of a sudden, my heart sinks, my social battery dies, and I realize that I’d like to be anywhere but there. And in those moments, I think, “I do not feel comfortable enough to share how I feel with anyone around me.” So, I get up, say goodbye to everyone, and watch their mouths tug at frowns as I leave.
I have a handful of the most wonderful people in my life. Individuals who tell me they love me, and who gasp in excitement the second they see me in the halls. They are people who tell me they’re desperate to hear about my highs and lows, and who offer their message box to rant. But, I’m simply unable to open my mouth. It’s as if there’s a zipper with a lock on my mouth, and I can’t find the words or tone to express my feelings without also completely minimizing my struggles.
Occasionally, I do talk about some of the sadder things in life, and for the past couple months, I’ve been opening up. But the loneliness is growing again, and I understand that the sadness will come in waves, just as happiness does.
Last winter, I felt terribly alone. I’d lie to my family and say I was going to sleep when in reality, I would go to my room, turn on the fan so no one could hear me, and simply sob until I couldn’t anymore. My anxiety ran rampant, my self-loathing extreme, and my insecurities raged. I turned to counselling offered by the university and quickly gathered how little expertise these professionals actually had.
In truth, I liked my counsellor, and it was because she just listened to me—not because of her “methods.” I didn’t feel bad venting about everything upsetting me because I knew she was getting paid to listen to me—it was her job. She told me, after a few sessions, that I didn’t need counselling. She told me I was “an intuitive and intelligent girl” who figured her own problems out. I beamed at her compliments but am now hesitant to seek counselling again because she’s right. I don’t need it. But I do want it. I liked how she had to listen to me. I liked that it was her job to listen. I felt less lonely.
I’m easy to please, except when it comes to my personal life. Sick of hearing “you’ll be fine” and “don’t worry, you got this,” I eventually stopped confiding in people. I needed to avoid the “just move on” and “why don’t you journal?” because it felt like people didn’t care enough to truly think about empathy. Meanwhile, I sat there and put their worries before mine, just to make sure they never had to feel the way I did.
So, I’m not lonely in the physical sense—not in the slightest. But I do feel lonely every once in a while, as I try to sacrifice for others while caring for myself. I’ve gotten better at this. I had fun in my second semester of third year and cared so little of what everyone thought of me. But I know that I am someone who needs and wants above average empathy, and I understand that not everyone has this—which is why I want people to know I can offer it.
I don’t always feel lonely. But I’ve realized that I’ve felt the loneliest when I needed someone to care in the way I know best. I haven’t needed that for a long time, but now I do. Still, I’ve learned that “protecting my peace” means to avoid sharing what disrupts it. And while I feel intense frustration for holding it, that feeling beats thinking no one cares to truly listen.
Changing Leaves Columnist (Volume 49); Managing Editor (May–November, Volume 49) — Aia is a fourth-year student studying Psychology and completing a double minor in French and Philosophy. She became a Staff Writer for The Medium in the 2021-2022 publishing year and was determined the team couldn’t get rid of her so soon. In her spare time, she can be found café hopping in the hopes to find the best iced chai in the GTA, writing her weirdly complex thoughts down in her notes app, or taking a million pictures a day of her friends. Aia hopes that students find The Medium and feel the sense of belonging she has felt. You can connect with Aia on Linkedin.