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Stranger in a Strange Land

It is a feeling that comes over me often, an old menace that stubbornly refuses to die. In classes, in coffee shops, in political meetings, in almost any activity where surrounded by potential friends. It is the profound feeling of alienness.

At any moment in the group conversation, something in me snaps. I look around the table at the other people blissfully talking, and I do not feel like one of them. I am not one of them. I am different, a foreigner, an alien, a stranger in a strange land.

And then the urge to run away, to hide, to be away from these people comes up. Who are they to me? What do I know of them? Sometimes I fight the urge, and stay on, hiding my vast discomfort. Other times I do run away, cursing the cowardice and the shame, miserable in my misanthropy, but secure in my silence.

There is something in the faces, in the voices, of the others that I don't have. They are into the conversation. They live outside of themselves, I live inside myself. They talk, listen, and laugh; I think, listen, and smile.

They are relaxed. I am not. I am never relaxed, except when I am alone. Solitude is the only place where I am truly myself, the only place where the real ME can ever be seen.

Yet I am not content with this. For the real ME is lonely, desperately lonely, longing for intimacy and friendship and love. I long to be able to relax, to laugh, to talk and converse amiably with other human beings. But I cannot. I idealize them in private and fear them in public.

Fear. Fear drives the haunted mind. Fear tortures me, gnaws at me, chases me from nearly everything I crave the most. But not even fear can conquer the longing, the desperate longing, the aching striving for meaning in life, for something other than the endless nights alone and unhugged, the dreams unshared, the life unnoticed.

When I am alone I wish I was with other people. When I am with other people I wish I was alone. This contradiction is slowly, but ruthlessly, destroying my soul.

Soc-phob, Oct. 28, 1997.