Two days ago, I went on an overnight business trip. It was all top-secret government stuff (no, seriously) and they took away our cellphones and Internet access for the whole time. So, it was just me and about eighty Koreans in a remote hotel by the ocean. Everyone was friendly enough and even though I speak Korean and the people I worked with spoke English, it was still a pretty lonely time for me. It got me thinking about why.
Probably the loneliest I’ve ever been was one summer in high school. I had had a girlfriend in another town for a couple months but she broke up with me since we lived really far away and since I didn’t have a license, we could never see each other. Still, I liked her and when I heard she was going to a certain summer camp, I decided to go too. None of my friends were going but I had it all worked out in my head, how we’d meet up again at camp and fall in love all over again.
I arrived there and met her before too long. I said hi and she said hi, then walked away with her friend. I was crushed. Suddenly, I was stuck at a week-long camp without knowing anyone at all. They put me in a room with five guys who were all together and while they were nice, they were their own group.
What I really wanted to do was just make a break for it. I looked longingly at the outer fence. The camp was about 100 kilometres of wilderness from my town, but if I could have just made it to the woods, I would have been totally happy walking home by myself (although insanely cold and hungry). (Postscript: I met another girl there and so the last half of the week was salvaged.)
I know everyone is different, but for me, being lonely is more than just being by myself. I can travel and hike by myself for a week in Korea and be perfectly happy. The same would probably be true in Canada, the US, England, maybe even France. But if I were to go somewhere I didn’t speak the language or where the culture was very different, I would get lonely quickly. When I went to Cambodia with my cousin, I was there a day before him and while that day was pretty good, I would have gotten lonely pretty quickly if I hadn’t met up with him. Some adventures are best shared.
What makes me the most lonely is being isolated in a situation that is uncomfortable or where I am trapped. What about you? When do you get lonely?
February 20th, 2014 at 6:31 pm
Crowds. Crowds are lonely.
February 20th, 2014 at 9:22 pm
Agreed. When the love of your life is not around.
February 20th, 2014 at 9:26 pm
February 20th, 2014 at 9:27 pm
True. If you are with someone you love, no situation can be lonely, because you have a world of just the two of you.
February 20th, 2014 at 10:10 pm
February 20th, 2014 at 6:49 pm
I can relate to this, I would say I feel the loneliest when I am trapped or am socialy expected to act to entertain or please the mind of a band of people.
February 20th, 2014 at 6:59 pm
been there too many times, too shy to mingle 🙂
that is a very tormenting situation I can absolutely agree!
February 21st, 2014 at 1:09 am
I can relate well to your experience in feeling alone amidst a crowd. As a teenager I felt at times like the wallflower while being envious of other girls that had people gravitate to them like a honey bee to flowers in bloom. Then I realized how unique I was; that God created in me a special person that could bloom in my own right if I let him take charge in my life. I think everyone needs to find that uniqueness and purpose in their life even if we’re left alone in a place where it seems we are on the outside looking in. Sometimes that is when we grow and mature best.
February 21st, 2014 at 10:55 pm
Good points. I think God can use all times in our life to teach us something and everything can be a step to maturity.
February 22nd, 2014 at 12:24 am
February 21st, 2014 at 2:45 am
A crowd can feel like the loneliest situation sometimes. That said, I would not want to be the last person on Earth or anything. As you said, some things are better when experienced with someone, and even better, if it’s someone you feel at home with. It sounds like you were stranded in that hotel with no Internet! Glad you survived!
February 21st, 2014 at 10:54 pm
Hmm, would you rather be totally alone all the time or with someone you felt uncomfortable with? They didn’t want us using our cameras etc. to record sensitive material, which is why we didn’t have any cellphones or Internet. Which was too bad, since it was a gorgeous place and I would have taken pictures of the area.
February 22nd, 2014 at 4:14 am
That is an excellent question. Oh, I feel a short story coming on…from you that is! Ha ha. Sensitive material, huh? What are you into? Are you a spy? Hey, I thought you were a teacher.
February 22nd, 2014 at 9:31 am
We were proofreading standardized tests, which is big stuff in Korea. The closest a teacher will ever get to top-secret work 🙂
February 21st, 2014 at 3:57 am
I don’t feel lonely too often. In high school, I wasn’t one of the popular kids (glasses, played sports when there weren’t women’s sports, liked and did well in school), although no one was really mean. I realized that if I only did things with other people, there would be things I didn’t get to do and although I sometimes felt lonely, I learned then to feel comfortable by myself, an invaluable lesson. I also tend to talk to people everywhere, so that helps. 🙂
February 21st, 2014 at 10:47 pm
That’s a very valuable skill to have, being comfortable with yourself. I’m almost never lonely by myself, I guess that’s why I notice it more when I am. Sometimes I’m more comfortable with just myself than with other people.
February 21st, 2014 at 7:13 am
I was in Stuttgart one time, visiting a friend who couldn’t take leave from work and spend the whole time with me so I did a lot of exploring by myself. I think it was the loneliest I’ve ever been and I usually enjoy alone time.
February 21st, 2014 at 10:45 pm
That is hard, when you’re just killing time waiting for someone else to be ready.
February 21st, 2014 at 6:32 pm
I used to get lonely in crowds – sometimes, still do
February 21st, 2014 at 6:49 pm
I don’t mind being alone in a crowd as I’m free to do what I want.
June 5th, 2016 at 3:06 pm
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