Discover more from The Windmill
breakups, loneliness, and other feelings
things that keep me up at night
Happy New Year! I hope you had an awesome time with your family and friends. May the new year bring joy, prosperity, and lots of rice to your life.
I have fears, a lot of them. And the new year won’t change it. In some sense, they have always been present — I was scared of this uncle who would wear his woolen cap all the time, I was terrified of swans, and I feared getting beaten up by mom and dad for not doing well in school. I am now fearful of dogs, racism, and the future.
Fears were much more tangible when I was a child — I could see and do certain things to avoid them. I am not sure that’s the case anymore. Nowadays, fears are a mix of both, which is perhaps worse. There is no way I can avoid thinking about certain events. I cannot go out to the playground and play, and I certainly cannot hide behind mom when these fears come knocking on the doors of my chaotic mind.
Some nights are better than others. But on nights such as this, the mind races in many different directions. Listening to Lorde does not help at all. “And I've never felt more alone. It feels so scary, getting old”, she says. It feels so relatable, you know? I am supposed to take care of myself and those close to me. But how?
I am a 23-year-old who does not know much about the world’s workings. I just want to sip my coffee, read a good book, be loved, and get a good night’s sleep. But life has its ways of working; things are not so simple, no matter how much I wish for that kind of life. So, what do I do when sleep does not come?
My mind creates parallel universes. It starts thinking about the many possible directions my life could take and the things that could go wrong. How would I deal with the loss of a loved one? What if my friends decide to leave me? What if someday my girlfriend decides I am inadequate and quits? Would anyone love me? Does anyone care about me? Does my life have any meaning at all?
Of course, my girlfriend, family members, and friends will tell me things are good, and nothing bad will happen. And they are right more often than not. More often than not is not enough — I would worry about the few times that things can go wrong; until my mind gets tired and I fall asleep. Some losses are inevitable, I know, and yet.
My earliest memory of loss is that of our pet goat. I cried a lot when I separated from that goatling (idk if that’s a word), I don’t remember what happened to it, but I remember crying a lot. I cared for it so much — I’d feed it from milk bottles and take it to the field for grazing and whatnot.
One day, it did not return home. The similarity is so striking — so many of us grow up comfortably in our homes despite limited means, and one day we leave, never to return more or less. Some people say, “home is where the heart is.” In all honesty, they cooked that up to make themselves better. If you are like me, you lose your home after a certain stage of life. And that’s how I got to carry on.
One day, my best friend in school decided to move to the capital city of Agartala after Class 6. He did not tell me about it; I found out only a few weeks later. I caught the school bus expecting to start the new school year around the same circle of friends. While I could not express it much at the time, I felt a deep loss as a child. I feared I would not make new friends and have none to play with during the “Games period.” As you can guess, that was naive because I eventually made more friends and had a great time.
We don’t talk a lot about the sense of loneliness that we feel when we leave a familiar environment. Many leave home quite young, looking for better schools, colleges, and jobs. I left home when I was about 16 years old and have returned home very infrequently. I know some friends who have left home as young as 7 or 8. Many of us are motivated to pursue our dreams, but only a few people (me excluded) have what it takes. They can maintain their motivation levels for an extended period.
Of course, we get used to living away from home and people over time. I do not long to go back home; I feel lonely sometimes, wishing there was someone to talk to about life events. Yes, I am fortunate to have some good friends, but as we grow up, we have our own lives, and it is impossible to catch up with them if you are physically away. That is the thing that sucks the most.
Many things seem silly now, but they seemed perfectly reasonable years ago. Time and experiences teach a lot; the trick is to be open to learning whatever life throws at you. After a point, I got used to geographical changes and changes in my personal life. But it takes a few profound experiences for that to happen — people left me, I left people and places, life happened, and I learned a few things on the way.
A close friend once remarked that I am doing pretty well despite whatever happened to me. I don’t know how to take that compliment — did she mean that she is proud of me, or does it also mean that I could have done better had these things not happened to me? I wonder. I still think that I am incredibly fortunate to experience things that my ancestors and people in my immediate family circle could not. But, on the flip side, more often than not, I feel like I could have done more — if only that one event had gone this way or the other.
There were times when I felt quite lonely, even when surrounded by people. I zoned out and felt that I was not there in the moment. Being lonely for an extended period means I value my few friends above anything else and get hurt more often than not. When they do not express themselves in the same forms as I do, it makes me sad. And it doesn’t mean that they love me any lesser, but for a brief period, I feel bad nonetheless. Hopefully, I will improve in this aspect, but that is how things are.
Losing people is hard; leaving people behind is harder. At times it is inevitable because, for whatever reason, that is how life is. For 2023, I wish to continue holding onto my friends and family, making new friends, and having a good year. I do not think I can do away with feeling lonely entirely. That is bound to happen now and then, but I hope the feeling does not eat me up. Until next time. Bye! 👋🏻
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