I had a conversation a while back about why people feel alone. It has become more and more apparent to me as I have gotten older that most people feel alone at some point, even if not often. I, for one, love being alone, but I have figured out that it’s because I never actually feel ‘lonely’. Actually, what I really mean is that I don’t feel any lonelier when I’m alone than when I’m with people. I might even go as far as to say that, in most cases, I probably feel more alone surrounded by people. Anyway, the point of this article is to explain some of the reasons why I think people feel lonesome every once in a while.
I think an important factor is that people feel misunderstood. Some feel more misunderstood than others, but in my view, people might experience feeling alone because regardless of the number of people surrounding us, few will ever fully understand us. I think this holds true for everyone. Nobody can ever fully understand somebody else, no matter how close you are to that person. At the end of the day, when it comes down to it, you are not them, you are not inside their body and mind. At most, you can understand only what they’ve allowed you to see.
This is quite true of me. When I consider my behaviour around other people I know the version of myself I project; only a version but not the full me. For this reason I find it quite humorous when people think they understand me: most don’t even know me. However, my concern is that even if I do decide to bear all to someone; human beings change, all the time. I could be one type of person today, completely sincerely, and then in a couple of years, or even days, I could have changed. So does that mean we should update people and they us each time something in us changes, such as a view or an idea? If all these thoughts about how no one can ever really understand us are constantly running through the mind, chances are, we will feel alone.
But another familiar reason for feeling alone is down to our reflex response to say that we are ‘okay’. My friend and I had a conversation recently, and we realised how we always say we’re chilling or we’re doing fine when asked how we are, no matter how far from the truth that is. So then that loneliness you feel comes form having concealed the truth. And although everyone claims to be there for you, no one is actually there because they can’t be — not when you’ve told them you’re fine. So now your feeling alone is completely your fault, and the assumption is that you can fix it. But does that mean then that everyone is struggling but pretending to be okay? Is there any point in voicing your problems? Maybe there’s a good reason why most of us prefer to keep quiet, perhaps realising that speaking out won’t help much anyway.
I don’t have a solution for feeling alone, but I do think that this state is actually normal when you’re an autonomous and complex being. So maybe the answer is to stop secretly wishing and trying to get people to understand us. Let’s lower our expectations and not ask too much from others, while appreciating that we are all individuals at the end of the day, and that is okay.