one in a crowd

A couple of weeks back, I was messaging a friend, and one thing that came up in the conversation was this feeling of aloneness. I know it’s not really anything new, this observation of how we are more “connected” than ever, and know more people than ever, but can also feel more alone than we ever did; but I just wanted to elaborate on my view of it because these thoughts have been drifting in and out of my consciousness ever since that conversation.

For me, this feeling of aloneness is different from loneliness. For me, it is largely related to an acute awareness that everyone I know has “other friends” who they’ve known for a longer time, and are probably closer to, and would hence prefer the company of.

It is true of myself that I also have “other friends” – a number of different circles of different friends – but even this understanding, or the understanding that others feel this same aloneness, does little to ward off the feeling, or to alleviate it once it’s taken hold.

And this feeling doesn’t manifest in a consistent way either. It doesn’t always appear whenever I’m alone at home, or have a quiet week-end of not many plans (or no social plans, at least) because sometimes I really just need time alone to do my own thing, or just to think and ponder. I can spend entire days by myself, and not feel “alone”.

But this feeling of aloneness is still unavoidable and unpredictable. It’s not always damaging or detrimental, but rarely is it productive or conducive to anything worthwhile. And it’s probably not always reasonable, but it’s probably not always unfounded either.

Isn’t it funny how the mind can build traps and cages for itself and, in doing so, ensnares the body too?

Sometimes I think it is because we are all so “connected” now that this awareness of everyone’s “other friends” and the associated insecurities have all been amplified. But maybe this is just a phase: maybe these insecurities surface because we’re trying to find our place in the world, and, in doing so, we try to find our place in the worlds of others.


9 thoughts on “one in a crowd

  1. I know you wrote that it isn’t loneliness, but I’m pretty sure that’s what you described. It is different from being alone which is simply factual and it is different from solitude which is pleasant aloneness. Loneliness is a sense of being alone in an unpleasant way and it can happen even in a crowd.

    • Very valid points… When I wrote this, I suppose I was thinking that “loneliness” implies sadness and melancholy, whereas my feeling of being “aloneness” is more to do with a perceived isolation, which causes disquiet in the mind (but not sadness exactly…?)
      I think I get what you’re saying, though. I probably shouldn’t have said it was entirely different

      • There’s also this feeling of otherness akin to homesickness that I sometimes perceive in myself that I’ve found a few other people also experience. Anne Lamott says something about it in Bird by Bird and C.S. Lewis’ book Till We Have Faces (great book) deals with it in depth. It’s not quite the same thing as loneliness, but sort of a tangential thing.

      • Oh and I hear you – you’re perceiving loneliness in the way that it is typically and tritely described. It’s more complex than that. Our words do a poor job of capturing that complexity sometimes.

  2. Loved this post! Very relatable.

    I just had a deep conversation with my significant other regarding feelings of aloneness on both of our parts – I think the feeling of aloneness is probably the most uncomfortable when you are feeling it although you are with someone. It’s as if there are so many technological ways that we are connected, that our brains our being trained to work in ways that actually make us disconnected. Although I despise this feeling, I have found that it is a good reminder to bring myself back to the present moment.

    • I definitely agree that technology plays a big part in all this. And I reckon it’s great that you’re aware of how and when the feeling creeps in, and can sort of turn it around on itself.
      Thanks for dropping by and commenting 🙂

Please leave a comment (or two!) here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s