The Search for Meaning: Loneliness, Belonging and other Insecurities
We live afraid of owning up to the reality of our non perfect lives. I’m tired of hiding in the shadows. Here’s the truth, and though they’re not pretty, they’re real, and they’re mine. I own them, every single one of them. For better or for worse.
Loneliness stems from a constant feed of pain which were never allowed to heal, and over time, festers into an isolation of emotions and people.
My parents fought frequently, mostly about money (well, the lack of), and my dad, being a dangerously violent man, would often unleash his anger in our household. We lived in constant fear of his explosive ways.
Of his four children, I bore the brunt of his abuse, despite being the youngest (aren’t the youngest typically the most adored and pampered?). Perhaps he expected much from me (because I showed much interest in academics, which aligned with his passion for education); or perhaps my rebellious nature clashed with his expectation of total obedience, being the stern authoritarian that he was. Each time he hit me, the veins around his neck would thicken and turn green while his face would be the color of fiery red and his eyes glared at me like a monster about to devour its victim. I’m doing this to discipline you, he would say. I would rebel even more after each beating, and a vicious cycle began.
I felt extremely lonely growing up, despite a rather large family of six. My parents worked two jobs. If they were not working, they were fighting about money. My oldest brother was always busy chasing skirts. My second brother was consumed with growing up into a man quickly - he wanted facial hair, a strong chest, muscles in his arms. He spent all his time in front of the mirror, inspecting the slightest growth of facial hair and smiling when he spotted one; and getting frustrated when his chest isn't growing. Most of all, he wanted to be tall, so he jumped every day, in front of the mirror. My sister is the sweetest person I know. She liked being an older sister - she’d take care of me and cooked for me each day after school. She was always a good friend to her peers, constantly going out of her way for her close friends. Unfortunately, her kindness was rarely reciprocated. This made her very sad.
For the most part, I didn’t like my family very much. I felt that no one, except my sister, loved me. Conversations at home were rarely in kind tones - they were loud, harsh, and somehow, always morphed into accusations of things I did and didn’t do; for example, not shutting the refrigerator door tight. The accusations came crude and caustic, like fiery darts aimed at the tender fiber of my heart.
There was always work to be done at home - apart from homework, each of my sibling and I was assigned household chores daily. This included sweeping, mopping, raking the leaves, pulling out weeds in the garden, hand washing our clothes (according to my parents, a washing machine is highly damaging to clothes. So it sits in my parents’ bedroom like an ornament and used as a shelf to put things on).
We didn’t have a water heater at home. Morning showers before school was an intricate torture affair. I’d undress in the bathroom, prepare the shampoo and soap, brace myself, and battle the cold water till I was done. Hence, I learnt to do anything and everything quickly because there are pain and punishment in doing anything slowly.
Perhaps my deep need for belonging stems from my childhood where I never felt belonged at home. I was always happiest whenever I was with my friends and away from home - in school, staying over at a friend’s house, spending several days in a sports camp. Those escapades provided me with a sense of acceptance and camaraderie that I never found in my family. I remember my sister would ask me why I was so pensive after every return from a camping trip or school expedition. I liked being with my friends better than with you guys, I would say quietly in my heart. Of course, I never told her that. She meant well. I never felt love at home and I didn’t wanna hurt her feelings by telling her what I really felt. Although my sister did love me, because I was so blinded by the lack of love from my parents, I failed to recognize my sister’s affection and care as love.
Now as an adult, I am still constantly searching for love, acceptance and belonging in friends. I can’t sit by myself for extended hours to write, edit a film, learn a new language, play the drums, or learn to play the piano because I deem those as lonely acts - though I love those activities, doing them by myself made me feel all alone and isolated. I constantly need to be around people and be the center of attention. It’s exhausting, but I don’t know any other way to feel better about myself.
ON DARING TO BE DIFFERENT
I refuse to let anyone tell me my dreams are too big, too outrageous. Cycling across America? You, who don’t like to cycle, you who don’t like discomfort, you, an alien in America?
I believe I will make a very, very good living as a writer, contrary to the notion that writers make pittance unless you’re a multi-million best selling author like J.K. Rowling and Malcolm Gladwell.
ON BEING AFRAID
I get afraid all the time - afraid of not fitting in, not being good enough, not doing a good job, afraid that my life might end tragically or that the end times are near. Instead of living in and enjoying the present moment, I live afraid.
ON SELF DOUBT
No matter the joy I find in the things I love and am good at, say sports or writing, I’m always searching and craving for belonging. I never satisfy. I’m never good enough, I tell myself.
PERMISSION TO LIVE
I need to write myself permission slips to break out of my limiting beliefs which have me trapped in a vicious cycle of loneliness, insecurity, fear, and self-doubt.
Focus and excel
Produce and thrive
Be the best writer on this planet
Be the funniest person in the room