On Feeling Alone in a Crowd


On Feeling Alone in a Crowd

Well, all of us feel alone, separate, like we don’t belong, don’t we? And some of us feel it more often, more deeply, more acutely than others, that particular hole in the heart closer to the surface.

As a writer, I spend a lot of my time alone, a blessed relief after an earlier career of being/feeling “on stage,” wearing a costume, an armor of someone other than my deeply buried self. Most of the time I revel in being alone. When I’m not writing, there are books, DVRed TV shows, Netflix, and most important, sitting on the sunporch staring into space, watching the birds, feeling the wind blow, and thinking.

My husband, daughter and I lived quite happily this way – when asked, years ago, what activities we did together, he replied, “We like to be in separate rooms together.” If you understand that, then you understand me – and I’d never feel alone in a crowd with you there.

Being with a group of non-kindred spirits is not how I would choose to spend my time. I’m no good at chitchat, and a group of a hundred people where conversation has to be screamed is not a place to find a genuine connection. Plus, it always feels like everybody already knows everybody – all those smiles, all those teeth.

I have a friend who has a ten-minute rule. She goes to such functions, makes sure that she is seen by the host, and leaves after ten minutes. Another acquaintance follows a “just-say-no” practice. And everyone seems to understand him, though I must admit there is much eye-rolling whenever his name comes up. He really is my hero.

Now it is not people I hate, it’s not even parties (well, it is, sort of). Rather it is the overblown pageants. I just don’t get it. Too much food, too much alcohol. Too much chitchat, too much trying to prove something that few care about. Yet it provides me with an opportunity to appreciate simplicity, paring down,  drilling down to those values that are dear to me; it also provides me with an opportunity to practice non-judgmental acceptance, though I, obviously, have a way to go on that one.

So one of these days, perhaps sooner than later, I’ll draw on some inner resource, and just say no, and make it up to those who provide such celebrations in some other way. Or more likely, if they read this, my problem will take care of itself.

Another Sunday, http://www.cynthiastrauff.com