Illustration by Marcelina Jagielka
Nobody wants to be lonely. Since we were children, we were raised with the idea that there is somebody out there for us, somebody who will love us, who will protect us, somebody with whom we will share beautiful moments of our life. We are raised with the idea that there is an amount of love we give to certain people throughout our lives, and that we will get this love back in such a different yet wonderful way.
We romanticise first encounters, first dates, first loves. We try to see the little magic spark that is shown in the movies. We search for it, we long for it. Sometimes we get disappointed by this cold, bittersweet reality. Why isn’t the world like in the movies? Where is the spark? Where are the first encounters, the first dates, the first loves?
Those things seem to have slowly been turned into an act of consumption. Dating has become the new online shopping trend. We search for our type on dating apps, we make out drunk in the bar, and we try to cover our disappointment with little smiles and small talk.
But how can we survive this reality? How can we survive feeling lonely and left out?
Sometimes, after being endlessly disappointed, we meet someone who we think might be better than the others. We hold on tight to this hope, we almost become obsessed about it. We create the movie in our head, and for a little while we try to believe in the fairytale. But at some point or another, this person leaves, and we are left with all this love we used to give.
Where does all the love go?
Should we try to find someone else to fill the void? Should we try to distract ourselves by meeting people that we are certain we will never see again?
At first, we do. We do try to fill the void, we do try to distract ourselves. But at the end of the day, we still sleep on our own, holding our pillow tight. We still feel empty.
So one day, we decide to adopt a new tactic. The kind of tactic that is praised by the glossy Instagram posts about self-empowerment and self-love. However, the truth behind the pastel coloured posts is harder than expected. When we are used to following certain patterns, it takes more than a girls’ night out and liking a few posts about “focusing on yourself” and “I don’t chase, I attract” to actually get better.
Getting better is about suffering.
It is about avoiding the short-term distractions from your suffering and facing yourself fully. It is about not endlessly asking yourself what was wrong with you, and why they have left. It is about accepting the fact that some people leave and others don’t. It is about having hope, and allowing yourself to not feel okay.
We are trapped in a society full of toxic positivity, where productivity is so constantly praised that we actually miss being kind to ourselves. We miss the love we so desperately deserve.
We search for the love we seem incapable of giving ourselves.
Being accepted, respected and cherished. But how can we expect others to give us this kind of love when they may be dealing with other problems on their own as well? It is unfair of us to expect being healed by a relationship – the only place we can expect to find love is within ourselves.
It is about trying to accept our feelings, trying to accept that there will be lonely nights, and days where waking up feels exhausting. There will be moments where we will feel so utterly empty in the middle of a crowd. There will be moments where we will feel let down and useless.
But those moments will also come with moments where we feel slowly getting better. There is nothing more rewarding than feeling that being on your own feels less scary than before. Sometimes we cling on to people because we feel safe with them, but there comes a time when letting those people go feels like jumping into the unknown.
We take a deep breath and let them go, and then we realise we had wings all along.
And now I know where all the love goes: into the unknown, into the jump that turns into a journey.