Thursday, February 25, 2016

Am I lonely?

It is 1.16pm in Cairo's neighborhood of Dokki where I am sitting at a quiet(ish) cafe (because do we here in Egypt really know what silence is?) with my coffee and computer, my two best friends, and think about what I'm feeling. Two tables down, I am sharing the cafe with a 60-something man who is gazing outside, enjoying his shisha, by himself. It looks like we share that we both brought our best friends to this cafe today, and despite the picture of two people sitting in silence, appearing to do nothing, by-passers will probably pity us because we look lonely. The truth is that they are probably right: I haven't spoken to anybody in person, other than the waiter and the fruit man that sells me my daily bag of strawberries outside of my house every day, in almost 48 hours. Am I lonely?

For a person that is widely known as a social butterfly who loves talking, my everyday life would surprise people. I never understood how I got a reputation like this in the last two years, seeing how I went to less than ten house parties (out of 150 at least) in the year and a half I have resided in the busiest city in the world. So I like to converse, sometimes get quite enthusiastic about a topic and, of course, don't show so much as a glimpse of my actual personality when I go to a superficial drinking fest on a weekend, so how do people come to conclusions about my personality? I am clueless about this because I know they almost entirely get it wrong. Just like those people who walk past this cafe and see me sitting here alone, every day, not noticing I am smiling inside...

I don't need to emphasize to anyone that those who truly know and love you are the people that will erase the feeling of loneliness inside of you. Whoever doesn't know this has big lessons to learn. Beyonce, loved by everyone, probably doesn't feel as much comfort from a Staples arena full of fans as she does from her husband and daughter. I have felt lonely in my life very often, and I was always surrounded by friends. That is because company does not drown out loneliness. Being understood, cared for or appreciated does. We don't need many, we need good people. And that cannot be everyone. And even those we choose might not choose us. Finding someone to fill a void that may exist is a blessing so rare we need to accept it doesn't come easily.

It will be hard for me to ever feel truly lonely again as long as I know I have the people in my life that I do and who I truly deserve, however, most of them are unavailable to me for a hang out or coffee date. And because my computer is the link to them, I take technology on that date. Who I long to truly spend time with is myself though, and because my computer is the link to that, it is sitting here with me right now. That man has his shisha and thoughts, I have my fingers and thoughts. I get comfort in knowing that as long as I type up these blogs, my diary, job applications or writing assignments, I have my own purpose, and immediately I feel comfort; comfort that I won't be sitting here alone for the rest of my life doing my own work, but that it will soon tear down personal or professional walls that I really don't need in my life.

The collective of people is nice, I enjoy talking to them sometimes, but in a crucial time like this, where my growth needs to be the priority, they are a distraction. The truth is that most days I prefer my solitude to the meaninglessness of most encounters. I am closing my door to anything but my thoughts because I believe that only I, and maybe some of the selected few I share a heart with, should influence and guide me in the right direction. It's not loneliness, it's a decision to listen to only myself. The number of people I talk to has decreased, and the ones I do talk to now are helping me on my goal of discovering the next piece of myself. And discovering what I am like in solitude, surrounded by nothing than ambition, is not a piece I have figured out yet. Sure, this is a phase, but a needed one that is quite hard to realize in a place where solitude virtually doesn't exist. But that just means I have to try harder... 

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