The Incessant Beast that is Loneliness
Written by Gabriel, 301 intern
“I don’t know how you manage” I hear quite often. Depending on how close I am with whoever utters these words, the reply is usually “honestly, neither do I”. Because if I really think about it, even though I probably should be at least showing some cracks on the surface from the stress of university, I feel… serene.
Quite possibly the biggest reason for this is: my friends. My mates. My brothers and sisters that are fellow comrades on this great shipwreck of life. The ones my soul cannot do without. If there is one thread that has tied the chaos and cacophony of the mundane and heightened it to divine planes, one thing that has given meaning to even the most insignificant of worldly tasks, it is the love I feel for and from the people that I surround myself with.
As a recovering perfectionist, I recognise the instinct to want to work comparatively hard on what doesn’t come as easily. All that I do well is quickly forgotten because I have failed miserably in this one oftentimes small detail. For me, loneliness is that festival’s headliner. It is the fear that overshadows all the others; the scariest monster inside any closet or under any bed. In a strange way, it’s always there, sometimes dormant in some dark alcove of my brain, sometimes baring all its teeth and claws and taking over every other thought - making me forget that I am even capable of forming any other thought than ‘you are alone’.
Because it is the one I feel the keenest, it is the one I battle the hardest. The thing I most actively seek to deflect, repair, avoid, combat… Well, I, too, have teeth and claws, and I, too, have bared them in the face of the treacherously incessant beast that is loneliness. I have sought people that make me feel alive, and I have held onto the relationships that I know balm my self. My friends are my rock, and the knowledge that I have them there at the end of any day has steered me through many stormy nights. Academia and its bumps many times feel like a heavy burden. The vicious cycle of not being in a good place and having to consider the duties of a student, possibly leading to these duties becoming the reason you’re not in a good place… it makes for a painful mental spiral. It becomes difficult to extricate what ends where and starts when. Your friends and coursemates are there for you. Studying together is a proven way to break that cycle. Quizzing one another, taking turns to summarise key areas, or even just setting a time to study together can not only abstract you, but it also greatly helps with motivation - even if you don’t study. I’ve found just talking to someone taking the same module can be a massive help both personally and academically. It’s a corporeal reminder that you are not alone. It doesn’t matter how many times you read or hear those words if you do not physically experience what they mean.
So reach out. The right people will never see you or your needs as a burden. I’ve found that the only person who sees my social needs as a burden is me. And I know the hard work it takes to shred that illusion, because I do it every day. We’re all on the same boat: the boat of needing each other.
I have repeated it many times to pretty much everyone in my life: if it had not been for the relationship I shared with my flatmates during The Online YearLTM, I don’t know what my mental state would have been then and would be today. It kept me from the precipice in a year when the abyss beckoned harder than any other. So yes, I’ve been there. I’ve been there. And now I’m here. There is still in sight, and I don’t know if it will ever not be. But it is because I have been and still see the there that I can treasure the here.
And here, I feel just fine.
Article written by Gabriel, 301 intern