"Oh yes! I'm the great pretender." Or so the song goes, but I do think we're all a bit of pretender at times. I think we're all a bit guilty of piling on the performer when feeling socially awkward, admittedly some of us more than others of course.
Let’s say you’ve been invited to a Halloween party for instance, and the only person you really know is the person whose party it is! There might be loads of people at the party and they all seem to be friendly. Everyone is having a laugh and a good time; although they all seem to know a lot more people than you do. Obviously no one is interested in you, because they don’t really know you. It's almost as if they can't even see you! So you start to feel like the ghost you came dressed up as. Of course your friend, whose party it is, is busy all night with all the other people. So then you start feeling neglected,rejected and unwanted. Sound familiar?
I'm sure all of us, at times, have thoughts like: “No one really understands me." or "Does anyone actually care about me?", "No one knows the real me . . . and even if they did, they probably wouldn't like me.” or even more dramatically "I wonder if I died if anyone would really notice or even care?" Yes you could be forgiven for thinking "What a drama Queen! Get over yourself!" True, it does sound rather over-dramatic but as pitiful as it seems we all have those moments even if we don't like to admit it.
So what do we do when we start thinking like that? Sadly, most of time we decide the best course of action is to withdraw even further into ourselves, so we can snuggle up to feeling even more miserable and depressed! I suppose the trouble is a lot of people who are considered 'the life and soul of the party' are in fact socially bankrupt on the inside and as self-loathing and over-sensitive as you can possibly get.
So what is the problem? Well for a start, some of us feel like we have to play the fool and become the performer in order for other people to actually like us. Rather than just liking us for who we actually are. Plus we’re all told by the media in one way or another, that to survive in life, you can’t trust anyone. So instead we build up walls, thinking, I'm never going to get hurt if I don't let anyone in. People are never what they seem to be, so I must protect myself by pretending to be something I'm not. Then the little voice that sits on our shoulder starts whispering little lies like "Don’t trust them or you will get burned! Don’t let anyone get inside!"
The trouble with this path is we end up thinking that if people don't care about us, why should we care about them? We begin to think that people only want what is good for them and that our well-being is meaningless to everyone else. Sure, people may tell you they love you or that they're there for you, but it's all a show. They don't really care about us.
The fact is, when we do find ourselves feeling lonely in a crowd of people, we must first try to raise our self esteem. So set yourself some goals and try to achieve them, no matter how insignificant they may seem at the time.
Life is very important and we only get one shot at it. So try to live your life in such a way that you can feel proud of it. Try and be that good example that you wish you were. You ARE a good person and it’s important to know that. So does it really matter if others don’t understanding us? Maybe try to understand their problems and help them, rather than constantly asking for emotional help and hand-outs all of the time. As another song goes, You gonna reap just what you sow. So if you DO start giving, you WILL start receiving.
It might well pay to find out if anyone you know is also facing such a state. Of course for this we have to shift our attention from ourselves to other people. A good start is to actually listen to others. Ask them about their problems. You may well find that there are quite a few others out there who are in the same boat.
So if you do suddenly find yourself feeling lonely in a crowd, remove yourself. Don't just stand there mentally beating yourself up over it. Simply come to terms with the fact that we’re all different and this particular crowd isn't for you. Don't set yourself up for more stress. Just walk away and look for a crowd that shares your point of view.
It is a sad fact that a lot of us are performers. The trouble is the more we carry on performing, the more prone we are to finding ourselves feeling lonely in a crowd. What this all boils down to of course is the underlying fear of being lonely.
Look around you, if you stopped performing or being the great pretender. Who do you think would actually lose interest in you? Sure there may be a few shallow 'friends' that say “So and so’s really boring and miserable these days aren't they!”. But I also guarantee that there would be much more that wouldn’t. The people who genuinely care are there no matter who we are, or who we are pretending to be!
They see us for who we really are, and still want to spend time with us. Sometimes these people are friends, sometimes they’re your family. Whoever they are, deep down I think we all know who these people are for us. These are the people that really matter. The people that love us no matter how we are feeling. So cling onto these amazing gems of people and you’ll never feel lonely in a crowd ever again.
Look after yourself, and each other.