“I am not my loneliness”

I don’t want to be weak.

I don’t want to be scared.

I don’t want to be alone.

It took a lot of self-convincing for me to take part in this project, not because I don’t feel this way, but because I don’t want to admit that I feel this way. All of my life, I’ve been an extrovert. I feed off of being around people, and when I don’t, I find myself in a scary place that I don’t want to be in. I become a person whom I don’t recognize, someone who won’t reach out for fear of being judged. This is the position I’ve found myself in as my career at Duke has gone on…I’ve found myself alone, in a sea of people who seem so happy and satisfied with their lives on the outside. I wear this same happy mask. But it’s time to take off the mask. I’m not always happy. And I’m certainly never satisfied.

It’s not a fear of being judged. It’s a fear of admitting to myself that I have a problem. It’s the fear of confiding in someone that sometimes, when I’m alone, I feel the walls closing in on me and I can’t breathe for fear of having to stay like that, alone, forever. I want the comforting words. I need them…but I don’t want to reach out for fear of seeming needy, or whiney, or any number of negative words that I can’t help but feel the world whispers around me.

The bad thoughts are my worries. They’re the demons hissing in my ear that I’m not loved enough, not attractive enough, not smart enough, or any number of things that the average college student experiences. But that’s the point…we all have bad thoughts. We all have demons that whisper in our ears. And It’s up to us to reach out to our loved ones, pull them close, and tell them that we need help. Tell them that we need help, and if they ever need us, we’ll take a bullet from them.

Everyone needs a reminder that they belong. But in the end, the solution for my loneliness starts with me.