Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Long and Lonely Road

What has been bothering me lately? A problem that I don't think many people like to talk about.

  • How can it be that on any given day we see scores of people, but feel lonely and isolated? 
  • Why is it that we have hundreds of friends, but no one to share with? 
  • Where can I find people who I want to be friends with, and they want to be my friend in return? 
  • Who wants to admit that they feel isolated? 
  • How can you share that you feel alone, if you feel uncomfortable talking about such personal subjects with your friends? 
  • Are they really your friends if you can't talk about these things?

When I turned to the internet, to feel less isolated, I was really surprised to find out how many people felt the same way as I did. These same questions kept cropping up, again and again. No one really had a good answer for why it was so hard. It used to be so easy, so natural, I used to be surrounded by people. Why did that number dwindle so quickly? Why could I not find these people now that I was older?

I had blamed myself:

  • I'm too introverted, not outgoing enough. 
  • I'm too weird, no one wants to be around me. 
  • I'm too busy, I always say no.
  • I don't keep in touch, if I don't call, they won't call either. 
  • I'm too quiet, I don't have anything important to say, or the will to say it.

All this self-hate, is frankly self-defeating. It doesn't really get at the root of the problem, which is for the first 18-20 years of life you were surrounded by your peers and you had tons of opportunities to mix and meet. The moment you enter the world as an adult, you are never going to have it that easy ever again. Nothing in your previous experience prepared you for the day when you had a job, your own place in a new town, and none of your original support system. You aren't surrounded by your fellow students, and you didn't really choose who your neighbors were, or your coworkers either. There is no guarantee that you even will like them, or you will have anything in common.

Of course understanding the reason why, is not the same as having a solution.

I wandered around facebook, I guess I have 458 friends. I went through the list, there isn't anyone there who seems out of place. They were my friend, at some point in time. That said, I don't think I have talked with hundreds of them for months or years. Obviously there are those I want to hold onto, because they were very dear to me, and those I still see on a regular basis. But honestly, are there 10 people who I am close to? 5 people even? Am I going to spend the remainder of my adult life on the long and lonely road?

Yes I have my fiance, who is best friend, lover, and companion all rolled into one. But being together is not a substitute for friends, or for not feeling lonely. We can feel lonely even when we are together. I know when he starts making phone calls to his friends, scattered across the country, that he feels lonely sometimes too. I wish I would do the same thing, but I really hate talking on the phone.

It might be a subtle point, but depth alone is not enough, there needs to be breadth with depth. Breadth really represents the possibility, if you spent enough time, maybe one day you could be close.

I'm interested in what you guys think about this, if you have felt this way too.

Take care,
Molly : )


  1. This is something that made my first year or so in a job miserable. After four years of being surrounded by friends, 3 of them incredibly close friends, it was jarring to be in a town with no friends. No acquaintances, even. And it wasn't all my fault - Oshkosh is a small, insular town, so befriending people is incredibly difficult. I eventually found two close friends at work and plenty of acquaintances to chat with while I worked out at the local YMCA. That was enough for me. And here in Chapel Hill, I've found a small circle, 2-3 friends who I see often and am close with, and a good half dozen who I can count on for something to do if I invite them. But some is chance, some is effort - I have to invite most of them in order to do something with them. Everyone gets so involved in their life that it does take effort to include people outside of just me and J. I agree on the breadth and depth idea though - you can't just spend all your time with one or two people. There need to be others. That's when hiking trips, dinner parties, or all day sugar cookie baking marathons (this was yesterday) are called for. Otherwise, you're too much in your own brain, and that makes me spiral quickly into depression. But it's not an easy question, and there are definitely no easy answers. Well, except one - it's not that people don't like you or want to do things with you. Never worry about that - there will always be people who think you're awesome and worthy of their time.

  2. This is something I've thought about too but I have slightly different factors... Maybe this means that many of your "reasons" are not all that accurate (??). I am super outgoing, people tell me too much so sometimes, I say yes, I call people, I text, I email people out of the blue, I'm that person that if you're my friend and you pop into my head for whatever reason, I'll text you just to say hey... And yet I feel the same way as you... As with Engineer Baker It was hard for me leaving uni, where I was surrounded but by ppl who were chatty leisurely, wanted to know my struggle of the day and wanted to talk about theirs and I went head first into the corporate law world, I'm not sure what you know about this world but it's go go go all the time and it can be a little cold. It can also be a bit isolated because although we work in teams a lot, we usually have our own distinct tasks, some which can be monsterously large and people are harsh professionally. That is, it might not be personal but they can pick at something u worked on for weeks and say it's terrible and you have to do it all over again. So that's where I am, I'm starting to open my eyes to it, get over it and learn to live with it... But it's hard! I guess my point in my jabber is that working lives sometimes make it difficult wither it be our specific personalities or just the environment were in... On the other hand, us knitters need to stick together damnit! :) feel free to drop me a line whenever u want... Even if it feels weird to u :P