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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lonely Dragon


There's something isolating about being at University. My friend Emily and I were talking about this recently - studying for a degree can entail a kind of loneliness that is similar to solitary confinement.


Biking to, and walking into uni every day is still a strange, semi-isolating experience for me. If I've arrived in time for the lecture, there will be students everywhere, walking down the little paths around the place, talking and laughing with their friends, sitting around drinking coffee, chatting and lounging like they've never heard of the word 'assignment', some of them who you know will be worth millions of dollars some day - faces intent, purposeful, their minds headed in one direction: success. It's strange to be on your own, heading in your own direction - yet not completely feeling that you belong.

There's the fashion aspect. It's unsettling to be surrounded by so many carelessly well-dressed people who wear expensive clothes yet appear to have given their 'look' absolutely no thought. As though they were born into their clothes and accessories, and from that point they've never given it a moment's thought. Their 'style' has morphed from fashion trends and their own taste into something natural - yet unfamiliar. I look down at my own clothes - the ones I gave a moment's thought to before exiting the house that morning: way out of fashion jeans, blue yet fading slightly at the knees, and turned up at the ends - a pro-life top with a "Love Lets Live" message, and a silver cross. I'm sporting a black jacket that hangs loosely over one arm, and am wearing a falling-apart backpack. Although I wouldn't want to be a mirror image of some of these girls, I feel distanced by my set-apartness.

Being at uni means a lot of solitude for most people. I theorize. It's like that for me. I'd say (although I'm a bit of an eccentric) I'm not the only one who feels this creeping loneliness from time to time, merely because of all the solitude that is somehow enforced on us by the nature of what we do.
You do need solitude to think, yet at some point an extended period of solitude can turn into loneliness.. For me, I can be feeling fine with being by myself, studying away on something - then my thoughts turn away from what I'm studying/observations of things - and an awareness of how isolated and alone I am grows on me.

Emily said she'd been having a think about this, and had come up with a theory: that a lot of this loneliness and isolation that we feel is actually based on the selfishness which is ingrained into our student life, and even continued when we are at home. It's a selfishness that builds up when we spend most of our time alone pursuing our own goals - because there is really only one person we need to be concerned and preoccupied with: ourselves. This makes us feel miserable, and that in turn can give us these feelings of loneliness.

Anyway, I'll finish this ridiculously long rant with a quote from Shakespeare's play Coriolanus. Apparently the word 'lonely' was first found here - along with a few other unimportant texts: "Though I go alone, like a lonely dragon..." Act IV Scene 1.
What are your thoughts on loneliness?

- Lydie

3 Comments:

Anonymous A faithful reader said...

Lydie, you've captured it perfectly. I know exactly what you mean. I too have felt that isolation and loneliness while on campus as you've described so well. You are certainly not the only one. Thank you for being so honest. It's nice to know there's another person out there who understands what it is to feel alone. Actually, I think loneliness can sometimes be a good thing. But like anything, too much of it isn't healthy either. We are inherently creatures designed for community. The absence of it results in loneliness and therefore confirms our need for (and the importance of) human connection.
-FR
P.S. Yes, you may surmise by my comment that I am also a student. But I'll say no more, that would be telling and I'd lose my mysteriousness;) Right, off to class! Have a great day.

8:55 am  
Blogger Lydz said...

Thanks FR!

So, you're lonely, and a student? That's still not very enlightening.. :)

Ahh, that's nice to know that other people are affected by the uni environment too.
Hmm, honesty is an interesting thing on a blog. It's sometimes hard to know how much to reveal, and how much to mask. Loneliness, though - that's a fairly common feature for most people.
Oh, I agree. I certainly don't think the answer to this problem is a quick fix of socialization. You really have to be able to cope with being yourself in a situation I think - and not depend too entirely on other people to get rid of the isolation issue.

'Cos otherwise other people just become something that fill your need for company - which isn't fair on them. But yes, we are social creatures - no denying that.

Hmm. Interesting thoughts there FR!

- Lydie

12:05 am  
Anonymous a faithful reader said...

haha...that really made me laugh! I can imagine you picturing me as a anti-social loner closeted in a musty university library with nothing to do but people-watch and write long, boring essays! A "Miss Brill" of sorts. Really though, I'm not! It's all about balance. I agree it's important to be content with one's own company as well as giving of our time to others. Loneliness doesn't discriminate; it affects everyone in varying degrees at some point or another. That's why I admire your honesty. Most people don't admit to feeling lonely.
-FR

4:47 pm  

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