I distinctly remember feeling as if no one in the world would ever really know me. I was young, maybe 10. I hadn’t labeled myself as introspective yet. I hadn’t fallen in love yet. I was positive that I was truly alone in myself. That there could be no way for another human being to ever know the true me. It’s funny, as I type these words, I am realizing that this is actually still true.
Each of us is alone with our thoughts and secrets and fears. We can share them with our loved ones. We can write about them to strangers. We can do everything within our means to bring them from deep inside out into the world and give them a place there. People can relate to them, make us feel somehow less alone. It helps. But I can’t help still feeling, like I did when I was 10, riding around in the back of my parents car, lost in my thoughts and imaginings, that I am a solitary being thrust into the world with other solitary beings to make all kinds of efforts not to feel that way.
I was quiet, I was shy. I was an observer. My siblings were all much older than me and off living life as adults. I felt an only child. I had imaginary friends and other worlds I lived in besides the real one. No one really knew me and no one ever would. Finally, in middle school, I met some friends I could open up to. They liked me and encouraged me. I knew then that what you gave you could get in return. I developed a personality before my very eyes. I wasn’t popular, I had a few friends I could be myself around. This meant something big for me. I know because these friends are still my friends, my very best friends. They got to know me, accepted me, chose to spend time with me, and I never forgot that. It allowed me to learn about people, to step outside of my quiet inner sanctum and develop relationships that would feed my soul throughout my life. I’ll never know what I am to these friends. But if it is anything like what they are to me, I’m grateful and proud to be a part of the family they chose.