Sunday, November 06, 2022

On most days I feel like an outlier. 

This 'growing up' with a heavy diet of 'tough love' usually translates to growing up 'alone'. The days when you had to eat tiffin alone and sit in the picnic bus alone or traverse through painfully complex math lessons in the back seat of the left row alone. 

Heh, the left row vs the rowdy girls on the right—always and forever—is as complex as trigonometry from tenth grade. 

You do a lot of growing up in growing up alone. 

Parts of it are forced on you, it's not like it was a choice given to you. You're alone in a crowd for over 7 hours, followed by struggling to understand the concept of 'sharing' your childhood with a sibling you believed would be just like you but isn't anything like you. You struggle in figuring out where and how it went wrong. It's not your fault that you don't know how two people with the same life and parents can grow up to be completely different adults. You're not supposed to know. 

One day you're 6 and alone and the next day you're 16 and have 10 friends who are pulling a surprise present for you. A white t-shirt is procured and handpainted with messages for you and pizza is bought that you share with these ten friends. You have friends who show up and care for you but in your head, you are 6 and alone through it all. 

Over the next decade, you meet people like you. Those who were misunderstood and those who struggled to fit in. Your friends in college are all those like you—the ones who grew up painfully depressed, in solitude, and had few friends or friends who they couldn't trust. You make them your world and they mean everything to you. 

Relatability is the biggest unifying factor in the world today, especially if all parties are on the same page. You encounter others like you. Growing up alone is serious business. A degree up in the chart and you will be forever scarred and anything remotely like a boyfriend in the formative years mean you didn't really grow up alone. You're faking it. 

However, somehow, wherever you ago, you find people just like you. It's symptomatic of the society to throw your type at you. I'd get into the details of how it happens but I'd also like to keep that precious detail to myself. 

In finding people like you, there's a sweet spot you hit. These people had the illusion of company but they were really all alone, and they all somehow know it. You don't bother asking them if they spent their lunch break in the library or with friends. You know that they have hobbies, passions, and interests because they had all the time in the world and nobody to waste that time with. They cultivated a personality in growing up alone.

Wasting time is a functional idea of harbouring a partnership—you pursue that in the love and light of those who you spend time with. 

You waste your time through your 20s as you navigate life. You waste time celebrating birthdays and attending parties and hosting parties and making more friends and giving yourself till the time you have nothing left to offer. You allow them in your bed and befriend them at work. You see them in your parents' friends and sister's boyfriend. You find them on dating apps begrudgingly and you also see them in the men you date. None of these people grew up alone, and neither did your closest friends today, but they're there because you offered them a sacred piece of your life—your time and companionship—that took away all that loneliness from your heart. You offered them the room and the whole damn bed in the corner of your heart where you grew up alone when you cried cause everyone had friends and partners to sit with but you didn't. 

As you grow up, you start to see kind people sharing a big trait in common, most of them grew up alone. Your closest friend from college who is still close to you because she gets what it means to be alone; the colleague you worked with briefly who understood what being alone means in a family full of crowd; the man you nearly dated who shared that trauma with you which made you realise you caught feels for him— all of them share this badge of honour. You heal your inner child telling them that they grew up alone but they are not alone in this. 

You pacify yourself giving all these examples of people you know—those who love you and those who grew up alone like you— you're all the same. You're all looking for people to make homes out of. Some made you their home and some of us are fighting hard to avoid the idea of making others into our home. A safety net that doesn't let you down like people in your childhood did. 

This is when you go on a quest. You do everything in your capacity to look for homes. When the man with a beautiful, sculpted body tells you how he was fat-shamed growing up and he was all alone, you know he's the one. You can hear the heartbeat getting rapid as he tells you this and you gently clutch his hand tightly to ensure he doesn't feel alone and look at him without saying a thing. 'I got you', he gets it. He holds you tightly when he sleeps and doesn't let you escape his arms even when you tell him you need to leave for work, 'don't leave me alone'. You tell him that you'll be back and proceed to cry in the car a little because nobody has made you feel just as safe as he did. You finally feel like belong and that you don't have to do any more growing up alone. 

You snap out of the momentary comfort that you shared when you realise he's leaving. 'I'll be back', he says. You believe him cause you shared a moment where you grieved over this painful solitude that became a part of your personality. 'If you think this was momentary then you're wrong', he insists that he's sticking around when you remind him that this is hard work and neither of us is in the space to give it that. 'We'll make it work', he tells you as he steers the ship and guides you through the trauma of navigating a complex situation alone, almost as complex as learning algebra where words are used in lieu of numbers. What was the point even? 

The point is always silly. In this case, he does leave you. He leaves you in the exact same manner as your classmates pulled a partner each and left you alone. He didn't have to pull the act but he did remarkably well. A seasoned player, you wonder, as you see him enjoy a night in with people closest to him. One day he's there and the next day he isn't. It's no big deal, you've done it before and you can do it again. 

Until it hits you many months later, on a night when you're quietly left alone in the comfort of someone else's bedroom. You can have a guestlist of over 28 people on your birthday and have 212 matches on a dating app and 5 messages in your pending folder and over 89 people in your block list but you can still very well be alone on a night when your inner child is angry at you and demanding answers. 

Why did he ever lead us on? Why were you never good enough for others? What does it take to be someone who has someone by their side? How does it feel like to have a man who doesn't abandon you for your friend? Will it ever be you who will have someone's crushing support by your side, the way you have offered everyone in your life consistently for years? It shouldn't matter after all these years and innate knowledge of operating alone in a highly productive and functional manner and yet it does. 

It does when you're alone on a Saturday night in bed and your devices are dry and you're wondering how the hell did we land up here after everything that has been going down in the fucking world.

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