In the most befuddling and bewildering ways, I have since childhood felt like an outsider. Never truly feeling that I fit in – not even when I did; often feeling as if I belonged to a yet-to-be classified third culture and that my feelings of alienation were rooted in my idealistic and perhaps even anomalous personality. But I have long since more or less come to terms with these feelings and now even noticed that there are tons of other people in this world who aren’t alone, but who yet feel utterly, utterly lonely.
In a multi-ethnic country like Iran, in which a significantly large portion of the population never has visited a country outside the borders of their own, the feeling of alienation comes with a bitter aftertaste: isolation. But when juxtaposing my feelings with the feelings of alienation that I know that many people within Iran’s borders carry, I cannot help but notice one striking difference, a difference that already has made itself apparent in this very sentence: The fact that the feelings of alienation, of being an outsider to the world, is collective. It is a shared feeling, one that everyone carries, because everyone is in the same, solely ocean-surrounded boat.
Outsiders always have a faraway look in their eyes as they look away from where they are, past the depths they cannot cross, and in to the world they are excluded from. And that’s what we do. Constantly and obsessively. To see, to imitate, to know and to understand – to somehow make us feel like we belong and are connected to the rest of the world. And while this in some ways is beautiful, it is also hurtful since it makes us focus on being part of a distant world more than the one we live in, the one that does not have as many people looking at it with wide, awestruck eyes.
It is tough to be alone. And it can be an isolating feeling that eventually grows into a devastating lifestyle. But to be alone together is not nearly as bad. We are all in the same boat and sadly, the pressure on it increases with every person who decides to walk out from it – be it mentally or physically.
To be alone together is a good thing. And embracing that, by empathising with one another and rebuilding the bridges that have been burnt between us, by realising that the world we turn our back to is just as alive and valuable as the one we are channeling our aspirations to, well, that might ensure the end of our loneliness.