It’s that time of the year again, the time we celebrate love in all shapes or forms. I usually don’t like to give in to social constructs but I have to admit that it never fails to remind me that yet another year went by and I am still feeling the need to be heard and understood.

I don’t have a definition for how I’m feeling. The only thing I’m sure of is that I’ve always known that something isn’t quite right.

My life growing up wasn’t exactly difficult. It was what you would call average. But I never really felt understood. Something just always feels missing. As if I’m missing a crucial part of life. I can’t help but feel like I’ve been cheated out of life.

I thought things will get better when I would get exposed to more of the world and when I would be a better human being with age. But here I am, years later and nothing has changed. I keep waiting for the day I would finally be able to show my true colors without the fear of being judged. I keep waiting for the day I would finally feel understood and needed. But that day never came. I still feel like a crumpled-up piece of paper.

The need to be heard and understood

I know I’m wasting my precious time. Every day I am hit with the realization of how these glorious days of my youth are passing right before my eyes and I am paralyzed, unable to make anything of them. I know these days should be treasured. I know these days should be lived to the fullest. Every day, it feels like I’m missing out on life. Every day, it feels like I’m living less and less.

I know everyone’s having it tough these days. I know the pandemic has left everyone in ruins, separated from their loved ones. I know everyone is feeling lonely because they’re alone. But for me, social distancing, or no social distancing, nothing really changed.

I felt the same way before it started and I’ll feel the same way after it ends. So when “things get back to normal” for everyone else, I still won’t have anyone to look forward to seeing. It’s easy to say distance made us distant but sometimes, I find myself in a room full of familiar faces, feeling more alone than in my own bed at midnight.

I try not to think too much about loneliness because my thoughts spiral down a labyrinth and I start to believe that I will end up lonely, without a single meaningful connection for the rest of my life. I try to make up for the lack of meaningful connections with likes and replies online. But it doesn’t help anymore. It’s not that I’m alone. The people are there, but they’re little more than bags of flesh and bones unable to offer a meaningful connection. Everything seems so shallow. Everyone seems so unreachable. Whenever I am with people, it feels like I am watching humanity from outside, unable to participate.

I think it’s my fault I’m not understood

To be fair, I think that it’s all my fault. It’s my fault that I don’t open up to people. Even the ones I’ve known for years know nothing about me. It’s my fault that I persistently try to please people, that I mold myself into the version they want to see to the point that I don’t even know myself anymore. There are times when it’s impossible to utter even a word because it feels like you’re constantly being watched and judged.

At times, my social anxiety gets so unbearable that I can’t help but lock myself up in a room. Sometimes, I go days without replying to messages or tending to the missed calls. I guess I come off as uninterested or rude. But in reality, I am just too terrified to speak. It’s a paradox of wanting to be alone because of my social anxiety but being despairingly lonely at the same time. But when I finally find the courage to utter a few words, no one really listens. They all just wait for their turn to speak.

You don’t grasp the bleakness of the situation until you have something you desperately want to share but have no one to tell it to.

Trust me, I’ve tried multiple times. Whenever I have a new favorite song stuck in my head for days, whenever I read something interesting and it feels like a bulb just lit in my head, whenever I find something funny, whenever something’s eating me up inside, whenever I am proud of a tiny achievement, I try sharing it with friends I’ve known for years and in group-chats named “BFFs” but it just feels like I’m being tolerated. At one point, you just get tired and stop trying.

When will I ever be a priority to someone else?

It’s been a few months since I last tried since I’ve had any virtual contact. It feels like everyone silently faded from my life. The group-chats that once popped suddenly went quiet. Then it hit me, the realization that their life really can go on without me. That I was never a priority, always an option. Even if I didn’t, they’d find someone else who’d shove their talks down the throat. While I’m still here I need to be heard and understood.

The phone occasionally did chime. I was asked how I’ve been. “Barely holding up” I replied. But the moment I hit send, my anxiety got hold of me and I quickly deleted that. “Good” I replied instead. They said they read the previous message before it was deleted. I panicked. “No, really. I am good” I lied. They replied “okay” and went on about their life. No further questions were asked.

It’s a dangerous combination — social anxiety and loneliness. I wonder which one led to the other. Am I lonely because I’m socially anxious? Or am I socially anxious because I’m lonely? I guess I’ll never know. Nevertheless, I’ll have to live with it.

All that I wanted was to be wanted. I want someone to truly understand me. Just once, I want someone to be afraid of losing me.

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