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  • Writer's pictureJimmy Ekdahl

Alone In A Crowded Room

While not universal, I imagine most of us have had an experience whether at a party, school, family gathering or something else where we feel alone despite those around us. In these situations, it’s easy to be confused. It isn’t hard to realize you aren’t alone when there’s people all around, but how many of them actually know us? How many of them truly care? These questions often perplex us, and this is where loneliness lives.

Loneliness is very misunderstood. It is not merely the desire to not be alone. Sure, that can come into play but more importantly it encompasses the desire to be truly known. Nobody can ever truly understand us or the way we see the world. You are the culmination of every life choice, decision, twist, and turn your life has ever taken. Unless they go through the same, nobody will ever truly know you. That being said, it’s understandable to desire someone to walk beside you. It’s normal to want another to hurt for you and experience your life as you experience theirs. Often this is thought to be found in a romantic relationship. While this should be the case, not everyone is in a relationship, nor must we be to still experience this same feeling of community.

It’s natural that as a couple start to go from two people to a joined union, they become more intertwined. Yet, the same emotional fulfillment we find in relationship can be found in friendship! I would take this time to challenge you to ask who really knows you. Often our souls’ hunger to be known. Too frequently we direct them to a desert of future potential while underappreciating the river flowing right in front of us.

I used to put up barriers in my mind of activities I could and couldn’t do. The purpose of this was that when I finally got into a relationship, I would then be able to enjoy these wonderful activities I looked forward to. But why did I construct these barriers? I assumed that if I partook in these activities prematurely, I would not have as much joy since I wouldn’t have someone special to share these with. Instead of going apple picking with my friends I didn’t go apple picking at all. And movies and TV shows I wanted to watch? Instead of watching them alone or with friends I simply watched nothing.

I finally let this come to light only to find that my friends were thrilled at the opportunity to do these activities with me! So why had I let it go so far as to deny myself joy and community? Because I had a false idea of fulfillment and while I held out to be fulfilled eventually, I was depriving myself of the community and fulfillment right in front of me.

Friends, I ask you, do you feel fulfilled by your community? I fear that far too often we hold ourselves back because our expectations look different than reality. If you are in a relationship and don’t feel this connection, perhaps you need to ask what you’re holding back. It is good, just, and right to guard your heart and not dive headlong into something. Yet, we can also become too guarded and not share and let ourselves experience this connection.

Likewise, if you are single, it is normal to hope for that fulfillment from a relationship but don’t allow that to deprive you from the community in front of you right now. There is likely already community and thus fulfillment right under your nose, we just need to take a look around instead of focusing solely on one form. Most of the time, our friends want to rally around us and form that community, we just need to change our expectations for what that truly looks like.

Lastly, if you fear your friends don’t truly know you and they don’t seem to desire this deeper friendship-love fulfillment, perhaps you should examine your friends. There comes a time to ask yourself if your friends are truly making you a better person. This is important because we become a blend of the 5 people, we spend our time with. People frequently don’t like to use the term “best friend” but if you want to know who your “best friends” are, just look at the 5 people you spend the most time with. If those aren’t people you want to be more like, maybe it’s time to make some new friends. You deserve to spend time not with people that feel they have to spend time with you but that see your value and want to spend time with you!

When your friends truly appreciate you, want to know you, and come alongside you throughout the thick and thin, you know and feel a deep, heartfelt, known, and then there’s no more crowded rooms with lonely people.

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