The lie of loneliness

I am a student worker in two departments at my university. The first one I was hired in, and where I have been working for two years, is the Department of Learning Technology. It is the department that nobody really knows about, but everyone needs something from at some point. It is a funny little department but I love it with all my heart. Tonight we went out, the five of us, to happy hour in order to celebrate my boss’ new job (even if it means leaving us). As we sat around the table laughing, eating, and being merry I realized something that should not have taken me this long to realize:

The biggest lie I’ve ever told myself is that I’m alone.

Ever since I was a kid I’ve isolated myself from people. There are a lot of factors that play into it, including part of my upbringing, but the bottom line is that I have consistently chosen to be alone. Perhaps I didn’t have those founding relationships that are so important to children and I never learned to really talk about what was going on in my head, but that does not excuse the fact that I have always had a choice to speak out. I have always had the choice to accept kindness. Yet I so rarely do because I have somehow convinced myself that no one could understand where I’m coming from and even more so, there is no way anyone could love me as I am.

Oh how wrong I have been. Twenty two years and I’m still figuring it out.

Tonight at dinner it hit me: Every time I’ve struggled, every time I’ve had a bad day, every time I’ve hidden away and avoided people, and every time I have needed someone there have been people within arm’s reach. If I needed to sit in my boss’ office and vent it would not have been a problem. If I needed to sit in a co-worker’s office and cry, any of them would have sat with me in it. These people that I have been able to laugh with, play with, work with, and enjoy life with are not just in it for the good times but would be there for the bad ones as well.

Why? Because that is what family does, and these people are definitely family. Of course we all have our imperfections, our unwillingness-es to reach out, and our own insecurities that leave us feeling threatened and isolated, but they pale in comparison to the love and affection we have for one another.

For all the times I’ve told myself I’m alone there have been people waiting at arm’s length, ready to be there for me if I would just ask.

So to anyone who feels alone, you’re not. To anyone who feels like their problems wouldn’t be understood, they might not be right away, but with time even the most complicated problems can be understood. To the reader out there who feels like their problem is too big, too scary, too dark…it isn’t. People care. It is hard to believe it and even harder to reach out but I have found that sometimes we just have to push through the difficulty, do what doesn’t come naturally, and allow ourselves to be surprised when it works out in our favor.

Would you turn away someone you know who needed you in a moment of vulnerability? No?

Odds are the people in your life won’t turn you away either. 

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