Loneliness is no stranger to the friend
To my dearest friend,
Let’s set the scene: I was at a party a number of years ago. The specific number of years being very highly classified information for the sake of anonymity. Some people were high, but I don't think she was high on drugs. No. She was the prettiest girl in the year, and she was high on the air of summer coming in and of high school going out — the feeling of freedom and of vibrant life! Oh yeah… and she was drunk of course.
I happened to have many friends around that time. No classmate of mine was counted as a non-friend. I got along with everyone and that was nice. As I was at this party, I was chatting to some of those friends. As this exciting conversation was unfolding, the aforementioned girl came up to us. The conversation was probably mediocre at best, given the fact we were teenagers, so I don’t think she joined the conversation for that. It soon would become clear to me why she came over. As we were yapping away like happy muppets, the way muppets tend to do, the pretty girl grabbed my hand, as muppets don't tend to do. Now you must understand – I am no rude person and naturally, I didn’t want to interrupt an important teenage conversation, so I held on to her hand. And so long as I held on, she didn’t let go. That felt nice, I thought. It felt like someone cared for me, like she was reassuring me in a way.
The reason I write this is because your article, Stranger, compelled me to do so. Not because I want to discredit or discuss what you say in any way. The opposite. My sincere compliments to your piece; I want to add to that with my experiences.
You see, I know your article was mostly on making friends and having friendships (whether that’s with Aristotle being involved or not), but I read about loneliness in between the lines. That’s where my experiences come in: I have a paradoxical experience with loneliness. You see, I still have many friends to go around (and perhaps even some pretty girls, I may just be too oblivious to notice). I know everyone in my classroom. You, for example, my friend and dear reader. I know you and I know you know me. And that means you know that I know you. To simplify: we know each other. But I often feel like very few people really know me, perhaps even no one. Or rather, maybe it’s the feeling that no one cares for me.
And I believe that’s the catch of loneliness. No matter who you are, how many people you might call friends. No matter how close you are to someone – God, you could even be married! You, too, might feel deeply alone. Many people do, me included. A feeling of not being cared for. Not heard. Not loved. Only to be amplified by the knowledge that everyone will be your friend the next day. You see, here’s my experience with all this: Loneliness is no stranger to the friend.
So hear what I have to say next, for it’s never been said before: Reach out to your friend — or to that stranger — and ask how they're truly doing. That way we can make true what Billy sang to us for all those years: ”They’re sharing a drink they call loneliness, but it’s better than drinking alone.”
With that being said, I can now confidently say I fulfilled my duty as a citizen of this new age. Maybe I didn't make some stupid Instagram post with an unrelated picture of my holiday in Vietnam, but you get the idea: I told you to do what I won't do. I will now go back to the knowledge that I am not asked, nor am asking the question I just proposed to be asked. And with that knowledge I will be rightfully telling myself that I am no better than the many friends that walk and talk past me every day. I can then, in comfort, enjoy the discomfort of loneliness as I unjustly justify my suffering by telling myself I deserve the aloneness due to my inability to offer that which all want and deserve — to be heard and loved, to be acknowledged and felt.
Now hold my hand, and don't let go.
P.S. Oh I see you still want to know what happened that night. Nothing else happened between the girl and me, not least caused by an array of events involving one guy who had drunk more than he should’ve. Not only did he want to start a fist-fight, he drunkenly declared his love for one of my friends (again, after being rejected on multiple occasions before) and tried to convince me his lighter was mine when I tried giving it back to him (he dropped it as he fell asleep on the bus). I guess after all, the only conclusion we can draw from this whole thing is that teenagers are dumb, but they’re no match to drunk teenagers.