You Should Feel AloneThere's a difference between loneliness...

You Should Feel Alone

There's a difference between loneliness and aloneness. Tori Clement in 500 Words On on Oct 12, 2015 We’ve all been 13 once. A shiver is probably running down your spine as you try to repress memories of Abercrombie, braces, Razors, and Nickelback. No one can escape the natural and poignant process of the unforgettable middle school preteen-angst hormonal-mess stage. It is in this phase that no amount of Juicy Couture perfume or Axe spray could ever fully mask our desire to be chosen, accepted, and known. As teens, we didn’t really give a single thought towards the future besides weekend plans—or lack thereof—or a future wedding with the cute boy sitting next to us in Language Arts. But our desperately insecure 13-year-old selves never for a moment dreamt that we’d find ourselves today, 10 years down the road, continuing to long for inclusion and acceptance. We’ve all tried to hide our loneliness by boasting of our weekend-long Netflix binges or playing Call of Duty for “15 hours straight, man.” But something we are not bragging about is the pulsing awareness of feeling completely and utterly alone. Sitting at home on the couch no longer becomes an act of rest but a sharp stab of self-awareness, self-consciousness, and a question of self-worth. I am here to tell you that loneliness is not a stain everyone can see, but it is something that will never wash out until you love who you are. It is my strong belief that loneliness occurs when what you identify yourself with is not in your immediate reach. When I’d look around and realize my friends, my work, my family—my identity—were nowhere to be found, reality would set in: I was completely alone. I was forced to sit in silence with me, myself, and I. It got awkward with us pretty quickly because I didn’t really know them very well, or quite at all. I had relied on others for my identity, my goodness, and my worth and the thought of being alone became terrifying because I didn’t know who I was and I didn’t fully trust this “stranger.” I would compare the experience to what it feels like to stand in a classroom while you and another student are waiting for the professor to return. You and the stranger probably have your phones out to pretend either that you have something to respond to or that you don’t notice the other person’s existence, all for the fear of having to get to know one another’s names. Why is that? Is it the responsibility that comes with knowing someone’s name? The labor of caring to remember it? Is it the fear of beginning to care for them as an individual? Whatever it is, it’s exhausting, because when you know someone, whether it’s only by their name or it’s their whole life story, it places an attachment or an obligation to ask more and know more, and after a while you wipe your brow and realize you’ve been carrying this person’s load. So going back to the moment on the couch with the party of one—loneliness is the fear of knowing myself and having to acknowledge the demons for which I carry and the despair of having no clue how to process them. It was one of the hardest, most terrifying moments in my life when I was forced to know myself, to face and acknowledge my failures and flaws and warped self-image, having to discover why I think of myself the way I do. And it took a long time to discover worth again. It wasn’t until I found my identity in something greater and more infinite, longer lasting than a human life (because humans die and their opinions die with them) that I realized my worth was not in a currency that would ever be payable. I understood that not one person, or their opinion, could buy me out and rewrite the book of my soul. Once I found my identity wasn’t in people, loneliness felt more like aloneness. It wasn’t punishment for bad behavior or being unlikeable, it was self-induced aloneness. I discovered what it meant to enjoy myself. I discovered that my alone self, the rawest me there is, has a purpose out there. T

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