(This is a cross-post. It’ll be going up on The Weekly Technetic next Saturday, but something is telling me to post it here now.)

“You’re not alone,” people will say, an instant before they go back to ignoring everything you’re trying to tell them. It’s a common refrain, a stock phrase that has become meaningless from overuse.

The truth is, we’re all alone.

Not all the time, of course. We can be in a room full of people, or sharing intimate moments with the ones we love, and we can feel that kinship, that connection, in a very real and physical way. We’re human, after all. Humans bond. We form friendships, relationships, families, because we know that some parts of our lives are better for having another human involved.

Yet there are paths we must walk by ourselves. A person’s spiritual journey ultimately must be taken alone, as no one else can understand the trials of another, nor can they see what has been revealed to another. Churches and their counterparts in other religions are fine ways to socialize and share the things we have learned, but a sermon is no substitute for an experience.

Likewise, our minds belong to us as individuals. No matter how much I say, how much I write, no other human on earth will truly know what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling. All the psychiatrists and therapists in the world combined could never do more than scratch the surface, and that goes not only for me, but for every single person who has ever lived. Our thoughts are private. They are unique to the thinker. And that means they are, at their core, unknowable to anyone else.

This isn’t to say that we should give in to despair at the thought that we will never be understood. We can still learn to understand ourselves, and communicate our findings to those most important to us. While they will never have the full picture, we will have taken a step in the direction of eudaemonia simply by enunciating our thoughts, giving them form and sharing them with another.

Sometimes the question is how much to share, and it’s easy to go wrong in either direction. Sharing too little makes us appear distant, even antisocial. On the other hand, sharing too much risks offending our loved ones, hurting ourselves from the looks or sounds of disgust we receive in response. As an introvert, I’ve been to both extremes, the first from my nature, the second from my overreaction to it. In all my attempts, I don’t feel I’ve ever found that happy medium.

To put it simply, I don’t have an answer in this case. I can’t tell you how to feel less alone, because the reason you’re feeling like that is because of something unique to you. All I can do is remind you that it is a perfectly natural human emotion. Don’t surrender to it, but do embrace it as a part of you. Study it. Find the reasons for its existence and growth.

We are human, and that means being one of billions. Too often, however, we focus on the billions and forget about the one. But there are an awful lot of those ones out there. I’m one. You’re one. So are your parents, your siblings, your neighbors. Everyone you know is just as alone in his or her own head as you are in yours. You can’t understand what they’re feeling, so focus on the fact that you can understand that they feel it.

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