What is it "really" like to be alone? – by Amna Sheikh

Chirping birds bumping into the sea, fresh breathing air whistling from the neighborhood trees, voices in the head resisting our sleep, and we start off our mornings in the hustle-bustle of the city, meeting the daily tasks we are supposed to complete. We have family, friends, colleagues, and every kind of external support that could ever be in our times of need. Yet, something feels missing. As if something we yearn for that does not exist.


In the midst of all chaos, I often wonder to myself how a person, despite having parents, siblings, friends, or even partners, feels empty, rather disconnected from the outside world. I do not know if it is the mere presence of these individuals that ends up making you feel lonely or the absence of an emotional connection with them that is a human need. Physically, financially, or even academically, you have the support of your primary caregivers as well as peers. Yet, there is a lack of connection, an authentic bond that could help you freely relate to them in a way your heart truly wants.


Have humans become pretentious? Or is it that everybody's fragility lies beneath multiple layers of fear. Getting lost in the glitters of the world is easy, but authentically connecting with the people around you could be scary. Everybody is trying to hide their scars and vulnerabilities in order to look complete. But why do we forget the humanness that we share commonly? Why is it that despite having our go-to people, we feel lonely? Why do we have to pretend that we are who we should be?


Loneliness can be deadly. But why do we never talk about it? Let alone strangers, why is it so hard to just share it with people who gave birth to you, who share the same blood as you. We live in a world that engages on social media to speak their hearts out, but not with the people sitting next to them. Why is it that the closest of bonds makes you feel so distant? From them, from yourself, and from the world around you.


Humans' need to connect and express what they feel seems to be fading away or taking a new form in the most ruthless ways. We spend time with each other, eat together, play together, pray together, gossip together and even sleep together. But it is so hard to laugh together, cry together, share our flaws together, and process the pain together. We share a superficial connection with our loved ones, but have we ever realized what we essentially seek?


We must tell ourselves that it is okay to feel empty and lonely at times. We do not need to hide that part of us that craves connection, a listening, compassionate ear to whom our voice matters. Our existence matters, our feelings matter, and our hearts matter. We need to remind each other more often what and how much the other person means to us that we usually don't consider worth mentioning.


Our loved ones do exist around us but not in an understanding, intimate way that would make us feel free. We are stuck in the cycle of entangled relationships where we feel confused, restless, and invalidated all the time. Why can we not connect with people in the way that they need? In a way they can feel emotionally safe? In a way they can heal? Or is it that we all as a generation are suffering from a trauma that we deny even exists?


Our elders survived their lives where being physically present was enough to fill the void of connection. The youth of this era requires a deeper connection on an emotional level as the sensitivities have increased. And so have we evolved as humans. Loneliness is a consequence of unmet emotional needs and continues to haunt us in alternate unhealthy ways. Most of us are dealing with one traumatic event or the other. But it is important to realize that we long for non-judgmental, non-stereotypical, forgiving, and emotionally mature relationships that can accept us for who we are without hiding our identities and distancing ourselves from the rest of the world.

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