This comic is 2 years old now! I wrote it sometime between the end of college and the start of my new life in Melbourne. That was yet another period of change, not so long after the previous one (graduating high school, best friends moving their separate ways, and entering college). Each time I start a new chapter of my life I am visited by an old friend, Loneliness. It stays with me in the first few months, as I travel alone, eat alone, shop alone, all the while trying to figure out how to make friends in this confusion.
In Melbourne it’s been with me for a little over two years now, probably the longest since elementary school. I’ve known it since that long, and to be honest, I’ve come to terms with its presence and have accepted it as the most stable constant of my life. It wasn’t easy – being the loner kid with barely any stable group of friends (except books) had its bad times, and I think it had a lot to do with my social anxiety now – , but it eventually became easier to recognise its presence as not something to be necessarily repellent of, but as something that was normal, part of the human experience, and that it had its benefits.
I treasure the solitude that gives me the space to think and to know more about myself, and the lonely walks that taught me to pay attention not just on myself or on other people but of the world around me – the colour of sunlight as it hits the trees, small trinkets lost or misplaced on the floor, the beauty little appreciated in this busy and bustling world. Over the years, it taught me how to notice the small and quiet things. It showed me how to be friends with myself, and to value the experiences (the plays, the food, the museum trips, the shopping) I create, even if I can’t share them with anyone else.
I read somewhere (to be honest it was a critical review of an animated series) about loneliness being defined as a mishmash of textures. It is often dark and shadowy – perhaps with one eye -, consuming you with thoughts of others, of being a part of others. That is the main experience, and the most popular view of it in media. But then there’s the other side to it, the one more like solitude – it is in the loneliness of being with yourself. With that is the amplification of quiet of breathing and the rustling of leaves, the movement of insects and birds as they mind their own business, of watching teasers of other people’s lives. The more of these ‘small’ things you collect, the more you realise that you aren’t just alone. You’re also experiencing these alone moments with the rest of the world (not people, but the world as itself), and with yourself.
Of course I understand how hard it is – it took me nearly 15 years of sustained introspection (afforded by the loneliness) to get to this point. But my intention to offer an alternative view of loneliness, informed by my true lived experience of it, and I hope that by showing this view, it will help younger kids reach this understanding sooner than later. For the sake of their spiritual health, seeing as we’re living in an increasingly isolated society.
You can download a PDF version of loneliness here: https://reimenayee.itch.io/loneliness
Pay as you want, so it can be free, or you can give me a few bucks.