A few days ago I found when I was browsing among some old files in my computer, an old diary of teenage, from five or six years ago. I decided to read it for a while, doing a retrospective analysis, and several things caught my attention.
The first of them is that it seemed to have be written by a completely different person than the person I am now. I spoke of feelings I don’t remember anymore, of forgotten ideas, plans that never existed in what was the future back then. Whole paragraphs were unbearable and naive ramblings, written in a hopelessly teenager style. Others were ironic and scathing remarks about a person, myself, that I didn’t understand, and a world that I found both curious and strange. As time progressed in the diary, both the style and the ideas were increasingly becoming more typical of an adult, until the last entry, more than two years ago, evinced a marked change in the form of speech and the exposition of ideas, more sober, more balanced, more disappointed.
The other thing that caught my attention was how the diary is testimony to the evolution of my relationship with myself and with the outside world and other people. In the early days, I wrote a lot about the guys and girls who went with me to high school. There are names, stories, opinions about them, the things they did and the way they seemed to live. With most of them, actually, I never crossed a word, but it seems that I watched them thoroughly to try to understand them. Back then I wasn’t sure at all of who I was or whether it was appropriate or not being like me, if I should choose certain traits of my personality and incorporate them forever to my identity or change them when there was still time. So, I tried to find the answers in others, I wanted them to know me, needed their acceptance and support, needed to find a way to integrate into their strange ‘normality’.
In fact, as is clear from these texts, it hurt me to watch people. It only highlighted the huge gap that existed between them and me, and I knew I couldn’t and wouldn’t (maybe then it was just that I didn’t want to) walk the path between us. They were the ‘others’, mysterious, distant, unattainable. So that my opinions about them were polarized: about some I wrote indulgently and with admiration, expressing a burning longing, the desire to approach them and catch them in some way; about others, I poured anger and contempt, perhaps moved by some envy. As the song said: people are strange when you’re a stranger, faces look ugly, streets are uneven.
Halfway through the diary, it takes place a fact that was certainly eye-opener for me, and helped me decide on myself. I ended up incorporating, still provisionally, loneliness and my sense of strangeness to my identity. After that, my habit of watching others and write about them ceased radicaly. I felt more or less assure about me, and the qualities of my new identity recently reaffirmed made it unecessary for me to obtain the approval from others, or their company. They still were mysterious and incomprehensible, and occasionally I felt the weight of isolation, but they had become truly unattainable. And I wouldn’t waste my energies on trying to reach them if I knew that nothing would result. But inside me, I kept the secret hope that someday I could meet someone like me, someone I didn’t regard as a stranger. More than a resignation, it was a wait. Maybe I could still get rid of my estrangement and, with some help, transform into someone adapted and social.
So I started to sink in myself and to live from the inside. And so I wrote pages and pages about the inner life, feelings, ideas, art, ideals and my views on abstract topics, always far from reality. Occasionally, I wrote something about the outside world, but I didn’t regard it with the excitement I used to. There was no longer anything interesting that it could offer me, but at the same time, I resented my new life, because I started to get emptied of everything but me. Only me, that was all that remained, everywhere, until my mind turned into a pressure cooker, like when a river overflows, flooding a valley. I was everywhere, ad nauseum, until I hated me. Until the bitterness burned me as gall. Loneliness is a cruel lover, tender and comforting, yet aberrant and violent.
But against all odds, two unexpected but related things happened, marking the end of teenage. On the one hand, I achieved communication; on the other, thanks to that, I incarnated in the real world for a while and I could unravel the mystery of the strange others. Suddenly I was living in my body, feeling through my skin; my words, my emotions, had a relevance in reality, they were able to transform it, and the others, once so elusive, now seemed closer, less strange. There was still time to change. However, this sudden connection with the real world didn’t long enough. When it ceased, I found myself lost adrift in reality, with nothing to protect me from its strikes. And for the time pain and the sadness of loss lasted, I discovered what lies in the human heart, I suddenly realized the motivations and sufferings of people because, for once, I experienced them and shared with them. And thus they ceased to be mysterious and incomprehensible. They became bland and predictable. And I managed to withdraw from the outside world and return to live inside me, where the things that happen there and the ones from reality are getting more and more out of phase, where everyone is indifferent to me.
In the end, I realized that I cannot be more than a stranger among strangers. That’s my nature, and my ultimate identity. And others are more distant than ever, about to become not an expectation, if not a resignation.