Why I Am Lonely

December 1st, 2015 | Categories: Uncategorized

Why I Am Lonely

You may know me as a gregarious person. If you don’t know me, then take my word for it.

You may know me as a person who has lots of friends and makes new friends easily. If we have never met, trust me I have and I do.

You may know me as someone who is happily married for over 20 years and a mother of two young children who constantly bring joy to my life. Believe me, even if you don’t know me first hand.

Yet…

I am lonely.

I am lonely because I avoid the color black on my kids clothes. I wouldn’t let my own aunt wear it to my wedding. I try to avoid black coats especially in winter. It’s not because I think black is a bad omen. That would be easy to explain. It’s because of the various symbolisms of the color black, not the paranoia, that makes me want bright colors in my life.

I am lonely because I don’t like hearing about kids and de-th in the same sentence. I can’t even write it. I don’t like hypothetical examples. I don’t like shows that involve this. I don’t like hearing examples in casual conversation. It’s not because I think this will be a jinx. That would be simple to explain. It’s because those two words just shouldn’t be in the same sentence. Why would anyone want them to be? Why would anyone volunteer to put them in the same sentence?

I am lonely because I don’t usually go for the easy attention getter, greeting, small talk, or conversation topic. In college it took me three conversations before I asked someone, who soon became one of my closest friends at the time, where she came from even though she had a heavy accent. Before (and no doubt since) it was generally the question most people asked within the first five minutes of meeting her. I avoided these easy go-to conversation topics well before I got my Ph.D. in communication, became the Stereotype Guru, and wrote a book on stereotypes. It’s because though I am just like everyone else and cognitively am wired to see difference I, nonetheless, somehow trained myself to set that aside as much as possible and see similarity instead.

I am lonely because after every conversation, I review that conversation in my head. I think about potential offenses, how I could have said something differently, what I might have changed if I could do it over, what I should say next time if I get the chance. It seems time consuming, but I do this sometimes in seconds. Sometimes I do this over months of agonizing reflection. It’s because I have read lots of research in communication (both my own and what others have written) and I know the ramifications of words and take these very seriously.

So I am lonely.

Because no one knows this about me, though some suspect. I am preoccupied with communication. Constantly thinking, wondering, questioning. It’s exhausting.

But you wouldn’t know it from looking at me, talking with me, listening to me that there is a whole part of me that no one knows.

So I am lonely.

It’s nothing I would change. It’s nothing I could change. And despite what you think it’s not because I think these ways and I do these things that makes me lonely.

It’s that you do not think and do these things that makes me lonely.

If we lived in a world where we were aware of what we say and do, what the ramifications are of these things, and were cautious of them– sincerely and authentically cautious– then I wouldn’t be lonely. If we did this all the time, not just in the office, not just with people who might be offended, not just with people we care about, and not just when we think we need to be PC, then I wouldn’t be lonely.

In a world in which we all did this, I would be able to explain why, for example, we should avoid x, y, or z stereotype without facing an inquisition, without having to justify why equality and equity are rational, without having to worry if I am upsetting someone by saying something that to me is as obvious as the color of the sky.

But we don’t live in that world.

So I remain lonely.

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