Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere! Bars and cars, sidewalks, doors, everywhere! — Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver)
The above lines just touched my soul very deeply when I first watched this movie. I could relate to Travis so much.
“Taxi Driver”. This movie expresses my life pretty well.
So, what’s loneliness? You might have a misconception about loneliness, you might think that loneliness is being apart from the crowd or in general simply being alone. It is not true. You can feel lonely in a crowd. It’s that sense of not belonging anywhere. That feeling of being an outsider. You just never fit anywhere. That’s what loneliness is.
You go meet your childhood buddies with the hope of getting rid of your isolation but you end up feeling like an outsider. You take them as a group but yourself as apart from that group. That’s what loneliness is. It never leaves you, it follows you everywhere, at marriage ceremonies, meetups, gatherings, dinners.
The development of our personalities doesn’t take place in isolation, but in relationship with others — we are shaped and completed by unseen, unremembered forces; namely, our parents. This is frightening for obvious reasons. Who knows what indignities we suffered, what torments and abuses, in this land before memory? Our character was formed without our even knowing it.
— Theo, The Silent Patient (Part 1: Chapter 2)
This sense of not belonging doesn’t just come out of the blue. It originates at some point in the past.
It can be those early childhood experiences that remember nothing about. Those kinds of experiences are what shape our whole identity. How foolish of us to think that we are in control, that we are the consequence of our actions. It’s certainly not true.
We can remember our childhood up to a specific point but after that everything becomes blurry and we can’t remember further that point. After that point is what’s called before-memory.
It’s the point where our personalities get shaped, be it positively or negatively.
Just think about it for a minute. Just imagine how badly child abuse affects a child in the long run. Incidents as common as parents fighting with each other in front of their child negatively affect their child on so many levels.
Children who get bullied end up suffering from low self-esteem. Childhood abuse victims end up becoming abusers themselves. The list goes on.
Honestly, this has made me question free will. If our environment, our thoughts, and our feelings that we can’t even control shape our whole identity and the reality around us, then where’s the control in it? Where’s the free will?
Even though this research is on-going but the above thought experiment by Sam Harris makes it quite clear that free will is quite delusional. Some humans use this as an excuse for running away from their responsibilities. I think rather than running away from our responsibilities, we can at least realize that we are not completely responsible for who we are today.
If you feel lonely in a crowd or like an outsider then who knows what caused it? You can’t just simply blame yourself for it. Maybe it was your parents. Maybe it was your peers.
We are not responsible for our personality traits. Some of them we inherited, some of them we developed along the way. Being lonely and feeling like an outsider is perfectly normal in a world this strange.
Don’t lurk for relations, in fact never do this because once you get someone you’ll get bored of them. Rather be comfortable with yourself. Enjoy that solitude. Once you start enjoying your own company, believe me, life becomes beautiful.