While swimming against the tide for months or years on end, struggling to keep my head above water – to keep my boat pointing in vaguely the right direction, or at least a direction that will cause the least amount of people to take any notice of me, I often lose sight of myself.
Although it sounds awful, it feels like I’m forgetting who I used to be. I used to have friends, we would hang out together, go on adventures, make a fool of ourselves, and explore new places together. There is a creeping realisation that the stories I tell are about a person I hardly remember any more, and events so long ago I’m not really sure if they really happened in the way I tell them.
It doesn’t help that I watch everybody I once knew posting carefully curated versions of themselves on the social internet, in what appears to be a gigantic pissing competition. I think often about deactivating Facebook, but worry that drawing further and further away will just increase the feeling of isolation. Standing in the corner of the party while the pretty and popular people pretend to be friends with each other is probably better than not being there at all.
It also doesn’t help that I’ve been on the road so much in recent months. I get it – my job is solitary in nature. When teaching, I spend a few days standing in front of a group of strangers, get to know them a little bit, then leave and never see them again.
I don’t know that I really have a point. Maybe that I need to do something about the distance I can feel increasing between myself and just about everybody I once knew. Even those I have thought of as close in recent years have either vanished entirely, or are drifting slowly away.
I need to do something. I’m just not sure what.
I wonder about setting out across the internet to find new friends, but suspect the time of people reaching out and maintaining friendships with those they will never meet has come and gone. There was a time – perhaps ten or fifteen years ago – when the blogging community across the world reached out to each other. Distant friendships were forged under the most unlikely of circumstances, and often endured. I still hang on to some of those friendships today, even though life has reduced us to a very few words each year.
Another part of me wonders if the effort will be repaid though. If nobody is seeking me out, what chance is there that I will find anybody if I begin looking?