Do you ever find yourself feeling alone in a crowded room? I mean, I’ll be the first to raise my hands with a shout of “Amen to THAT” because it happens to me quite a bit. And it’s always left me feeling like something’s wrong with me, that I don’t crave those scenarios. But maybe you can relate, too. It might be because you don’t know anyone there, or you feel like you can’t contribute to the conversations going on around you, or you just don’t want to participate in what’s happening. And it doesn’t have to involve drugs or alcohol or sex or loud music – you might feel like you don’t belong somewhere as “welcoming” as a church. It can be anywhere. But whatever it is, if it leaves you with what Brene Brown calls “the lonely feeling,” it can be completely debilitating.
I’ve been struck by this lonely feeling quite a few times in my life. The worst is when it happens around people you love. Because it’s not supposed to go that way. You’re supposed to feel great around those people, right?
It’s just that it’s not so easy when, in the moment, you feel so different.
Of late, I’ve really been diving into this Wild Woman concept. I’m listening to certain kinds of music, envisioning certain places, thinking about certain things, and dressing a certain way. And when I’m all alone in my safe little happy space, it works. I believe it. I own it.
But it’s when I find myself out of that space that things seem to get messy.
And that’s when it’s most important to hold onto who I am inside.
It’s going to be hard to explain this if I don’t get specific, so here goes: I was at a family event this past weekend in which I was most definitely not the center of attention. And that was fine! I didn’t want to be. But what I did want to be was acknowledged, noticed, and spoken to. And past a certain point, I was feeling left out and disconnected, which left me feeling uncertain, uneasy, and – come to think of it – quite unwanted. I didn’t feel like I belonged. I didn’t feel loved or interesting. I didn’t feel like anyone really cared what I was going through, or about what I was doing with my life. I just felt really alone.
I certainly didn’t feel like the Wild Woman I’d been preaching about all week long.
And of course, by allowing that nagging little voice in my head to take charge, I was alone. Alone with my thoughts. Alone with my insecurities. And allowing myself to be completely demolished by them.
. . . And then I had a good cry about it later.
But after all that, here’s what I learned about my seemingly “unique” disposition: sometimes, we’re all feeling a little bit alone. Sometimes, we’re not the only ones who’d rather just go home and put on a record and be quiet for a minute. Sometimes other people who appear like they’re having the time of their lives are “just getting by,” too.
And sometimes, if we can just find the peace within ourselves to be fine in the moment, fine with our loneliness, fine with knowing just how much we have to offer even if no one else is acknowledging it, then we’ll actually be fine. In fact, we’ll be great. We’ll rise above, like a phoenix. And we’ll forget about all the negativity, we’ll forget about the fact that no one asked us how our job was going, we’ll forget about the fact that someone else was, once again, the life of the party.
Because the truth is, we never wanted to be the life of the party, anyways. We just wanted to be comfortable in our own skin. And that, my friends, that is something we have complete control over.
So when you’re feeling like no one cares, when you’re feeling like the boring one in the room – remember who you are on the inside. And if you’re really daring, don’t wait to be asked about it – just share it. Tell it. Shout it. Demand the attention that you want.
Or, if you’re like me, just hold onto your wild inside. Store it up, save it for later, and fuel it into your passions – your art, your writing, your exercise – whatever it is that makes you shine and appreciate yourself.
Yesterday, I submitted my first piece of writing to a journal for potential publication. There’s a very good chance I’ll see a rejection in my inbox within the next month. But no matter what happens, I’m still going to submit other pieces. And I’m still going to submit to other places. Because that feeling of hitting ‘Send’ – of releasing a part of my soul and my vulnerability into the world – is exhilarating. It’s like a secret triumph I can hold onto inside, knowing that at least I tried. At least I found something good in myself worth the risk. At least, for a moment, I was fearless.
Because at the end of the day, no one’s actually keeping tabs on what we’re doing – at a party, on our computers, or in our minds. Everyone’s worried about their own shit. And only we can give ourselves the love and attention that we need to feel secure in our own self. Only we can take the necessary steps to be something greater, even if it’s only a feeling we hold onto inside.