17 Things That Happen When You Feel Alone With Other People

“I’ve always tried to make a home for myself, but I have not felt at home in myself. I’ve worked hard at being the hero of my own life. But every time I checked the register of displaced persons, I was still on it. I didn’t know how to belong. Longing? Yes. Belonging? No.” – Jeanette Winterson


1. It begins in a social setting. A party. Your birthday party. The going away party for your ex-college roommate who is going to go find herself in India.

2. Or perhaps a night out with friends, drinking, at the same bar you’ve been going to for five years.

3. You arrive and you sit there and you look at all these people around you. So many people, lovely people, or maybe even some not so lovely people.

4. Something about it all feels off.

5. You’re detached, introspective.

6. You hear the conversation happening, can feel the buzz of people’s words around you, but your mind is a million miles away thinking about something or someone else.

7. You keep trying to focus, to bring yourself into the present, but you just can’t connect.

8. You know right now is the time you should be “on.” You want to engage, be engaging, contributing to this experience with other people in some way.

9. But something about the atmosphere of the evening seems inescapable.

10. You want to belong, to feel understood; liked. You want to come off as witty, charming, interesting, but instead all you feel is blankness.

11. Blankness, nothingness. You sit there thinking how long you’ve felt this way. Maybe forever?

12. The inexperience of feeling understood is something you know all too well. You begin to get nervous, realizing you haven’t said much in quite a long time.

13. You wonder if people are going to wonder now, speculate later, long after you’ve left. Did you notice how X didn’t say anything tonight? What’s their problem? Ugh, typical X. We really should stop inviting them out.

14. You realize currently, in this moment, you’re confronted with the state of your relationships with the people around you.

15. Everything about this moment, this night, feels so impersonal to you.

16. You want to grab everyone you like and say what are we even doing here? let’s leave this place and go somewhere else. let’s hang out and watch movies and listen to good music and talk about life. but actual life. I want to know so much more about you but not here, not like this. let’s just stop trying to play it cool and forget about maintaining expectations, okay?

17. Someone next to you nudges your arm and asks, you alright? and you just look at them and say yeah, I’m fine. everythings fine. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Former senior staff writer and producer at Thought Catalog.

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