In The Eyes of Strangers

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Sometimes when sadness strikes, that moment when you feel like you’re all alone in the world, you look for happiness in other people. You look for that speck of love and acceptance in eyes utterly unfamiliar to you.

You sit on that seat in a restaurant, the one furthest from the door and try to look as nondescript as possible. You see that toddler, resting comfortably in its mother’s arms, grinning, showing those pink gums and something inside you gets a little blue. “Why don’t I have that?” you wonder and correct yourself. “Why can’t i have that?” You switch on your data bundles to drown yourself in the artificial world of Instagram. Your cappuccino arrives and you take a picture of it. “Just books and coffee.” is the caption you attach to it and post on “the Gram.” And wiggle in your sit as you wait for those likes that will make you feel relevant to somebody. To anybody. You feel like a person standing on a table in a crowded hall, waving your hands above your head frantically yelling, “I’m here! Somebody please see me!” You take a small sip of your cappuccino. You cringe. Add a sugar and hope to God it tastes OK. It doesn’t.

You look into the eyes of strangers, trying to see if maybe they look as lost as you do. If they feel as rejected as you do. But they all look so good. So happy. “Why am I seated here looking for sadness and solitude in everyone?” you wonder. Is this what your life has reduced to? Do you wish for them to be as miserable as you?

The toddler on the table looks at you. At least you think it does. You hope it does. Because that means that someone can actually see you. Even if it is a six month old baby with a brain no bigger than that chicken’s you will slaughter on Christmas.

“Christmas.” you think bitterly. “That time of the year when everyone gets together and pretend they love each other.” You find your face softening into a smile as the toddler looks on at you and you think you see its face softening too. You want to wave at it but you remember that you are not so nice.

You sip your cappuccino and decide to read Gabrielle Union’s “We are Going to Need More Wine” because every girl you know is reading it and you need something to talk to them about. “This is who I am now.” you think. “Someone who reads so I can be accepted.”

You look for acceptance in strangers’ eyes. But they are too busy with their lives to notice someone trying to be as small as possible in a world that couldn’t care less. Wanting to be seen, yet shying away.

You feel the darkness clouding you up again. That’s what you call it. “The Darkness.” That feeling you get when the only thing getting you out of bed in the morning is the realization that if you stay on that mattress one second longer, you will drink yourself to death. So you step out for air, hoping to hide yourself from the world in plain sight. Yet hoping that somebody, anybody, will approach you and ask, “Are you OK?”

You know you will smile and lie “Yes”, and as you watch that person walk away, you will wish they could stick around a second longer to ask, “Are you sure?” even though you know you will lie “Yes” again.

So you sip your cappuccino, and look for love and acceptance in the eyes of strangers, even though you know that the only person rejecting you, is you. You remember the many book you have read that all seem to be screaming, “You are beautiful! You are smart! Accept yourself and the whole world will accept you too.”

But how can you accept yourself when your own identity is so elusive? Who will you accept when you don’t even know who you are? When you look in the mirror and a ghost stares back? A ghost with nobody left to haunt?

So you look for love and acceptance in the eyes of strangers. The only place you know you won’t find those things. And you tell yourself for the tenth time today, “Maybe, just maybe, I was meant to keep solitude company.” You sip your cappuccino and cringe again. Your picture on Instagram has zero likes. You shrug carelessly inside of you, acting brave to your own self even though you know you are lying to yourself and think, “I am better off on my own anyway.” Another lie. And you know it.

So you look for love and acceptance in the eyes of strangers…

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