Loneliness is subjective, though not so much the feeling, but rather the grassroots of such an emotion. It isn’t hard for me to equate loneliness with a shivering winter day, walking in the midst of couples scrambling for the warmth of each other. For the elderly, it’s the deafening silence from loved ones, craving only a set of attentive ears, and for the elementary an absence of friends to share in the whimsical joy that is youth. I guess the only consistency we can draw from loneliness is a commonly felt emotion, and rightly so for creatures made to be in companionship.
Over the course of my visit to China, I fielded many questions, but certainly none more often than the status of my romantic life. You could imagine how much of a ripen crop I was, freshly out of college and fully immersed in a career. That’s more or less the quintessential time, at least in Asian culture, to begin thinking about marriage and all the likes. How ironic it was, being surrounded by so many people, but feeling all the more incredibly lonely due to the constant reminder that I should somehow be closing in on solidifying my spouse, or at the very least keen enough to have found a girlfriend. I couldn’t really blame them either, seeing as I expected the bombardment of these questions, probably showing I would’ve done the same in their shoes. Maybe the only saving grace, after sullenly telling them I wasn’t dating, was being told I still had plenty of time, being male and all.
My natural inclination was to agree with them, declaring any talk of marriage as premature. There were a few suggestions to find someone in China, suggestions I vehemently rejected, while all the more in wonderment if I only said these things to appease them and mask myself in a nonchalant aura. Think about it: who in the world admits, of all people to relatives, desperateness towards finding someone to date. On second thought, these questions only serve to light a flame of urgency, intentional or not, and perpetuates the feeling of loneliness. I get it, these are the things we value, finding a significant other and all, and it’s not as if being in a foreign country suddenly subjected me to uncultured values. At least when I was in high school, asking if I had a girlfriend was meant to tease me, rather than actually jabbing at my future.
No wonder we all feel lonely every so often, seeing as we all have some sense of spatial awareness of our surroundings. Attributing loneliness usually goes somewhere along the lines of comparing ourselves to the general majority and the accepted social norm. Social media, for instance, serves a multitude of contradictory purposes: both to celebrate our integration into relevance within our social circles, and to allow an envious eye witness into the very lives we wish to replicate for ourselves, thus creating a vicious cycle of attempting to one-up our neighbor, or at the very least keep up. In this, without even realizing, we attempt to cure our lonely selves before we can even diagnose our death through our need to stay relevant.
So there, I admit it, there’s a damn, immature, part of me that wants to post couple pictures, fully knowing the comments incoming, and to revel in the congratulatory celebration of my network, with not a care about the ones brooding over my joy; it’s about time I sat on the other side of the table. You can tell how human I am, to entertain such a selfish and momentary desire. In a way, true loneliness shouldn’t seem like such a brief lapse of wanting to be satisfied in the eyes of the world, but rather much more in-tune with a legitimate lack of isolation from every possible thing. Whatever I felt had little justification, seeing as I had a loving community around me.
I guess that brings us back to the how subjective loneliness truly is, seeing as how the majority of people have some sort of communication with the world around them. Rather, our definition of loneliness seems to entirely revolve around the things we value and the mutuality of that. To claim complete isolation from the world is absolutely insane in all but the most extreme cases. To declare the valuables, from which we find worth, to be absent, however, is truly the root cause of how most of us experience loneliness. I don’t really think understanding how any of this works will resolve the inevitable melancholy that arises when we miss our relatives, sulk over our relationship woes, or anger over being forgotten. Rest assured: this is not a blog written with a eureka-type answer, mostly because I don’t think there is an antidote on earth.
On a more reflective note, I really couldn’t tell how I felt writing about loneliness. I expected a deep sense of dejection and gloom but found a twinge of hope nestled somewhere within my emotions. In a way, I feel stoic, almost neutralized between mourning over scrolling down my news feed of happiness from the lives I wish I lived and the acknowledgement that the grass is always greener on the other side. I put on a few love songs while writing, hoping for a burst of inspiration from the green pastures I yearn for, and also, you best believe, a slew of my favorite morose tunes, waiting for the lyrics to twist my heart into writing the most despondent words you’d ever read for the next year. (I actually do have Spotify playlists for both and I’m happy to share them). Nothing came from any of it, but sentences were somehow formed, and I’ll chalk it up to the peaceful balance of equilibrium I should be feeling: warm enough from the company of my friends, but roomy enough for a permanent resident.