It is not that I am without friends – to claim so would be absurdly selfish. That sort of narcissism only perpetuates itself. Yet I still feel lost in this sea of friendliness, struggling to navigate between parties and teams. Every conversation holds a glimpse of a complete friendship, a story without a storyteller. But there’s no audience. My coffee shop meetings mimic a passionate duet in a morning symphony, ripe with excitement and layered with hope. Too bad I’m a terrible listener.

I don’t fear loneliness itself, in which humanity blends into the background, but fear misinterpretation. Perhaps I have forgotten the unspoken gift or the unnecessary invitation, slowly accumulating enough gaffes to stand for nothing. Yet I fear rejection. It’s paralyzing to take initiative, to connect eyes, to say the right words at the right times just to be understood. I’m not embarrassed anymore, only unsure. The social dynamics of friendship are confusing, and I am scared.

I don’t quite know what friendship means. It often seems like a two-way street at night without headlights, my path led by the swirling leaves left by passing motorists. It is easy to say that I have friends, or that I am a friend of someone else. But to say that we are friends, to recognize friendship, is difficult. We reflect upon ourselves; relationships rarely do. Maybe that is why progressing further in a relationship is so difficult, because we are so unaware of where we stand. And we each silently assume self-reflection ruins relationships, as if friendship only exists until it is acknowledged. How many friends do I have? I don’t know.

My uncertainty tempers my emotional investment - the connection between time spent and experience gained is nearly undeterminable. I always end up trying to diversify my friendships; the thrill of new experiences with new people is too alluring. It’s a strange fear, the fear of not meeting new people, yet I’m still obsessed with dating this entire metropolis. That’s why I don’t spend enough time with those I already know. In some ways, I’m a nomad, bouncing between groups of people, hoping for a quick meal before journeying on in search of a new adventure. Perhaps I should settle down.

I wonder what it means to connect with someone. Is it like reading minds? Finishing sentences? Probably less adorable, probably something simpler like trust. Maybe I have to open myself up first, like a flower advertising nectar, waiting for the thirsty bee. We could swap stories under the stars, which is a bit like trading Pokémon cards, except I don’t have any. It’s hard to imagine knowing someone well, beyond the endless stream of photo posts and witty one line comments. I want to know what worries you, what you care about, and what makes you wonder. I would love that.

I need to put in more effort, really. Into my conversations, into my actions. I need to emphasize, to support, to help when I should help, especially if I wouldn’t want help myself. I take parties and gatherings for granted, and they all need more energy to put together than I put in. I don’t even invite. But I don’t think I could have my own, it’s too late. Everyone else has plans, and I’m just along for the ride. I was never the cool kid; I’m just too shy. I should’ve learned how to dance. I would be happier.

Finding confidence in myself is a daily struggle. It’s easy to hide behind a wall of accomplishments and pretend the résumé is the perfect autobiography. Shouldn’t actions should speak for themselves? Life would be simpler if they did, it’s unfortunate that we can’t date the past. It’s a shame I put all my time into the wrong endeavor. I should really work on myself: smiling more, talking more, and developing a personality. I should hit the gym. I need to be confident with who I am, because no one else will be confident for me. Besides, confidence is attractive, as they say. I wish I was funnier.

My hobbies are the quiet ones. The unsure sound of plastic keys bouncing along to my thoughts is only occasionally punctuated by the deep hum of a working refrigerator in my cold apartment. Sometimes I read for hours, searching for the easy laugh from the exaggerated story. On brighter days, I try to listen for the tiny slam of a shutter that can’t quite capture the crescendo of the waking city. I love watching the hustle of busy streetwalkers more focused on crossing the street than preserving their lives. No one cares. I savor long walks, embracing the silence of old trees and towering buildings, without worrying about a path or destination. I’d like to think they understand me.

I talk to myself sometimes. I lose myself in my thoughts, jumping from idea to idea and returning back as if someone listening had just reminded me of what I was trying to say. It’s easy to debate with myself, I forget easily. Yet I don’t enjoy arguing with anyone else; I hate creating differences that separate us, and I worry about how angry I can be. I don’t want to hurt anyone. Yet there’s so much I would like to tell someone, to spill my heart out to, and I wonder if it’s all wrong, if this whole time I’ve been living in my distorted reality. I miss having long conversations. Those meant a lot to me.

I’m detached from myself. I hate being physically close yet emotionally distant; I hate sacrificing relationships for some magical career path. There’s no joy in work alone. I’d like imagine myself as being complicated, waiting to explain myself to the first person to ask. But it doesn’t work that way. I don’t understand anyone else. Certainly not myself. I hide my insecurity by clouding it, pretending to be more sophisticated than I am, hoping that I can be who I want to be by pretending, not acting. I can’t do it anymore. I wish cuddling would solve everything. I wish I had someone to cuddle.

I’m broken. I have no one, not even myself. There’s no one there to save me, there’s no one there to listen. I’m lucky though. I started life running, with only the open road ahead, and I’ve run as far as I could. It’s strange to run without a destination; it’s strange to think that I’m lost now. Maybe I should start again.