It was April when I came to realize I missed sitting in class. Even if my teachers were painfully boring and it was an ungodly hour in the morning. I missed people, I guess. I missed the people I didn’t even know, the ones who gave me small smiles or nods as a basic acknowledge of my existence. It’s foolish to say this now, but I honestly took it all for granted.

September has come around again and I’m back sitting in class. We’re together in-person again (even six feet apart), but I have never felt lonelier in my life. Funny—I used to think April was the peak of my loneliness. It wasn’t. The peak is now, and the gut-wrenching sobs that come out of me as I sit alone in my parked car at night.

The mind-bending numbness of loneliness hits when you least expect it. It’s in your car, the simple rides to the store that drive you mad. It’s with friends, when so much time has passed you forget what bonded you together in the first place. It’s the walks to class and the faceless people you pass, masks covering the friendly smiles you so desperately need.

It’s when you recognize how much easier it is to be alone. Not having to make small talk, fake interest in the lives of those around me, or explain the delusion you live in where everything is completely normal. It’s the realization that you are not as important as you once believed you were.

I’ve spent so many nights drowning in the isolation of my bedroom. I forget the last time I was challenged to go out and experience life. I miss the freedom of having options and things to look forward to when the weekend comes around. I miss the feeling I used to have when surrounded by friends. Whether it’s my own doing that’s caused the bridge between us to collapse or it dissipated on its own, I don’t know how to repair it.

Because even as I am surrounded by those who swear they love me, I feel so achingly alone.

I miss my parents. I know I shouldn’t—I spent almost six months trying to get away from them, desperate to be on my own again. But now I can’t help but wish I was in the arms of my mother, crying on a shoulder that I know will be there for me.

I think the idea of returning to a place that made me feel so complete would fix everything. I would reconcile with friends and fall into the person I once was again. I guess too many things have changed, and the person I once was has diminished into a girl who seeks solitude.

I feel irrelevant in my own skin. I wake up in the morning hoping for something to change. Yet I find myself in the same position every single day—staring at the ceiling, wishing for a time machine.

Whether I want to go backwards or forwards, I am not totally sure. Just as long as it’s somewhere that isn’t here. Stuck in a time loop within days that feel exactly the same.

2020 gave me two short months of calm before the storm. I only wish now that I could’ve received a warning before the rug was ripped out beneath me. I mourn the girl who reveled in good company and endless opportunities. She was good and pure, with the world within her palms.

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