I do not get embarrassed easily. I mean I do, but I’m fairly good at laughing at myself and laughing things off and appreciating that fleeting moment of humiliation because it usually turns into a good story down the road.
However, there are certain things I am weirdly embarrassed by that I have a hard time appreciating at the time. Tying my shoe, for example. Which like, I know. What the actual fuck? But it’s true. For whatever reason, the idea of bending down to tie my shoelace makes me feel like a dumb baby; like I’m just this little loser down on the ground, unable to keep my life together.
Laughing too hard at something. Sneezing when it’s really quiet. Immediately responding to messages. (I always feel the need to start my response with, “HELLO I know I’m replying weirdly fast but you caught me at a good time.”) The idea of people seeing my face while I’m sleeping. This is a big one. And after backpacking for six months and sleeping in vans and hostel rooms and places where people can definitely see my face while I’m sleeping, you’d think I’d be over it. But whenever possible I try to face a wall or cover my bed frame with a towel or something because I just think I have such a dumb sleeping face, and when you’re sleeping you’re already in a pretty vulnerable state and the idea of people seeing me like that is genuinely horrifying to me.
Being sad. Failing. It’s weirdly embarrassing to admit when you’re sad because like, what’s wrong with you that you are sad today? Why isn’t your life full of love and laughter and colour at all times? You must be a shitty person. People must not like you. And that feels embarrassing.
But I think the feeling I am most embarrassed by is feeling lonely. Whether it’s an overall sense of feeling alone in life, a random Friday night when everyone else seems to have plans, or a sudden pang of loneliness after you watch One Fine Day and just wish someone wanted to kiss you as much as George Clooney did Michelle Pfeiffer, it’s all embarrassing. All of it. It’s embarrassing to admit it to anyone: your best friends, your simple acquaintances, yourself. Nobody wants to be lonely, and the second you are, you force yourself to believe you’re not. This must be about something else.
“It’s not that I’m lonely,” you say to XX over your cheese plate and bottle of red. “I’m just feeling kind of stuck.”
“I think I’m coming off a bit of a high and real life is just hitting me all the sudden.”
“It’s probably a combination of [name] bailing on our date and [name] moving in with [name] that I just feel really rejected.”
But very very rarely will I sit across from someone – even my best friend in the entire world who I know is not judging me – and say that I feel alone. That I’m straight up sad. That I’m fucking lonely. And even if I manage to muster up enough confidence to admit those feelings, I follow up with 15000 reasons why; reasons to justify why I might be feeling that way. Flat out feeling it is never enough.
And I don’t know why it is so damn hard to admit this! But I think there is a very negative stigma around the idea of loneliness: if you’re lonely, it must mean people don’t like you. It must mean people don’t think you’re worth their time, and that must mean you suck. That’s what I think people must be thinking about me, anyway. Which is fucked, because when my friends (who are a lot more confident than I am) tell me they’re feeling lonely, not once do I associate this with the idea that they suck. Instead, I think it means they’re going through a hard time, and the rest of the world is probably too stupid and/or booooring to appreciate how wonderful they are.
But for whatever reason, it doesn’t go both ways in my head. When I feel lonely, I think this means I’ve failed. And I am absolutely unwilling to admit this. Which leads me to this:
I’m currently in Australia – alone, I might add – after a camping trip gone horribly wrong. And when I parted ways with my co-camper early that morning and faced the day with just myself and my backpack, I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness. And even though one of my closest friends was en route to meet me in a mere 48 hours, the idea of 48 hours by myself in this new country was enough to make me cry an insane amount of tears behind my dope $5 sunglasses. I felt so lost and alone and so embarrassed by this failed camping trip and I absolutely could. Not. Handle. It.
I tackled the day in a blind fog, seeing a lot and appreciating little. And then, after what felt like a long-ass day, I checked into my hostel room and met a guy named Max (or maybe it was Matt, but I was obviously too embarrassed to ask him to repeat himself).
“How was your day?” he asked as I dumped my stuff on my bed.
“I don’t know,” I responded. Which like, in retrospect, was a funny response to this question. But I couldn’t be bothered figuring out how my day even was let alone sharing that response with someone else.
He smiled. “Yeah, I’ve been there.”
And I suddenly realized this was true.
And no, I didn’t feel this weight immediately lift off my shoulders as we sat on the floor of our [weirdly clean] hostel hashing out life. But I suddenly knew that I was fine. That that is exactly what life is for everyone – moments of loneliness and lost-ness and feeling like what the fuck am I even doing? That everyone feels lonely and everyone feels sad and everyone feels like the rest of the planet is doing a better job at life than they are.
And it was not embarrassing that my camping trip failed or that I was alone again without much direction. It was simply what life handed me that day. And I was absolutely allowed to feel bummed about it with zero shame.
And so my point is this: THERE IS NO SHAME IN FEELING LONELY. Because everyone is. And admitting it to each other (and ourselves) is nothing more than a beautiful opportunity to find ways to throw those smiles back on each other’s faces. So let’s all stop fighting that and start letting each other do that.
So yes – today I’m lonely. And that doesn’t mean anything other than admitting to the fact that I’m a fucking HUMAN BEING. That said – if you ever see me tying my shoe, come give me a little ego boost, will ya? I’m still struggling with that one.