The Effects of My Loneliness

My loneliness is the ratio of selfies to group shots on my Instagram account.

My loneliness is my head on my childhood bed’s pillow at 8:35 PM.

My loneliness is eating cold leftover Indian food at my desk while I listen to songs that I used to listen to with other people. Headphones in.

My loneliness tells me that I’m annoying. That no one is thinking about me. That if I were to text my best friends, or people who I used to call my best friends, they would scoff and be frustrated with my inability to get the message. That I’m being phased out.

My loneliness only begets more loneliness, even when I’m not alone.

Sometimes it is small: a last-minute cancellation of a meetup for coffee, accompanied by what a logical person would see as a legitimate excuse, but I see as an affront against my affection. I shrug and accept that this friendship is over.

And sometimes it suffocates me. Squeezes tight and blurs my vision. I hope for red lights so I have time to wipe my eyes and try to catch my breath, secretly hoping other drivers see me and maybe take pity on me.

And don’t think I’m a loser, like I do.

My loneliness is praying for 5 PM so I can leave the gaze of dozens of people who have no room or time for me in their days, and maybe, just maybe, I can talk with someone tonight who will say, “I’m happy that you’re here.” And I will let myself believe them.

I know my loneliness lies. But it also disguises itself too well, and sometimes I can’t find it amid all that is really real.

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