things aren’t meant to be this way

“it’s just a little sad to look back on all my school days being alone, missing lunches or eating salads in toilets instead of being normal with friends”

I look back on primary school days, hiding out in the library during lunch because it was easier to be alone than live on the outskirts. It was easier than feeling the pain of trying to fit in, easier than the pain of never being good enough. I wanted to not need anyone or anything. I don’t know if not-eating was a part of it, or simply a side effect, but not-eating felt good and okay.

I look back on secondary school days, hiding in the toilet or an empty classroom during lunch because I’d lost all my friends after I became depressed. Those were perhaps the loneliest and most painful times of all. My closest groups of friends were no longer my friends and it was painful to pretend otherwise. It was easier to be alone, at least I was safe. I ate my measured salads or granola bars in the enclosed toilet or quiet classroom, my safe foods and safe places.

I’m in tertiary education now, and I watch myself slowly float away, trying to find a new safe place. Somewhere to be alone, again. I have friends, the loveliest classmates, people who really do care- and yet it’s easier to be alone than fake smiles and force laughter. It almost feels like home, sitting in a corner alone, with my lunch of measured veggies and a granola bar while everyone else heads off to get whatever they want, blissfully unaware of the freedom of being able to eat. At least I no longer feel the need to fit in, I suppose it is something that gets easier with age.

It no longer hurts. On the contrary, I now seek the solace of being alone. And yet, there is a sense of deep bitterness and melancholy, like a fog over these memories. The knowledge that somehow, things aren’t meant to be this way.

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Why is it always easier to be alone? I am very much an introvert at heart and I love alone time but this isn’t introversion, this is isolation. This is the feeling of never fitting in, the feeling of being fundamentally different, the feeling that you are simply wired differently from everyone else. This is loneliness and inadequacy and pushing away everyone & everything you need because you’re too scared. This is depression and an eating disorder pulling you away from any form of human connection because it thrives in isolation and because you no longer have the energy to pretend. You are dead inside. You just want to be alone, to eat your veggies and granola bar. You just want to be alone, physically and emotionally. You are exhausted from the weight of life and it hangs over you like a fog. There is no energy left to pretend. This is needing a reassuring hug and an ‘are you okay’ more than anything, but not being able to open up, because you are a burden.

These days, it’s always easier being alone. Even with the caring, open-minded classmates who make school so much better. Even one-on-one time with my closest friends. Even with the people I feel most comfortable with, my sisters or grandparents. Nothing feels as right as being alone, isolated from the world. I am an introvert but this isn’t me. I love people, I like talking to people and helping people. Spending quality time with people I love means the world to me, it’s my first love language. But right now, all I can bear is faking a smile and a ‘I’m just tired‘.

It’s all turning into a giant pantomime.

Maybe this is a sign that I’m not as okay as I thought I was. I’m tired. At least I can be alone, weigh my veggies, eat my safe food, count my steps. At least I can be alone to write, and rest, and do whatever I want. I don’t need anyone. I am okay alone, I am safe. That’s what I wanted, right? To not need anyone, so everything would stop hurting. That was what I needed all my life, that was what I needed in primary school. But it just struck me- is that what I still need?

I don’t know. All I can hope is I don’t end up in university, looking back and realizing I’m in the exact same situation. I hope I find it in me to make a change, I don’t know how, but I hope I do.

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