I’ve had the pleasure of reading My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, from here on referred to as MLEwL, not too long ago. Framed as a “report”, the story is an auto-biography chronicling a 20-ish college dropout who struggles to live her daily life of swinging from one part-time job to the next while dealing menagerie of mental health issues (from depression, self-ham to eating disorder) and trying to live up to the expectation of everyone around her, whether that’s her family or society at large. Part of what makes the manga compelling is the self-aware insight that the author provides and there’s a sense of honesty and earnestness to the writing which makes it feel very much real. The very same honesty which I strive to always have in my writing, both fictional and non-fictional.
I decided to read the manga to learn more about my own feelings of social anxiety. Ultimately, while I found some new insights and a certain kinship with the author, I’d have to say it didn’t really help me much since I couldn’t relate to what the author went through because of my own differing circumstances.
That’s okay though. It didn’t diminish the manga’s qualities and merits. Plus, every single person on earth had their own respective burden which can’t always be the same. But it’s a fact of life that I always find saddening nonetheless. As much as you can bond with another person who are going through a misfortune of their own, their circumstances can’t be the same as yours. You can be together but still feel alone in that sense.
Even if you do find another person who had gone through, or are currently going through, the very same hell you’ve been, they could still turn out different than you are. They could react or respond to the trauma they’ve received in a different manner than you do which ultimately leads to a different psychological progression. Some of the kids in my major who was bullied in the past turns out to become the very same type of person that used to bully me in the past now.
As much as you can try to learn other people’s misery, you can’t ever completely understand them. How you process the event that they went through, no matter how well articulated they are, are still filtered and distorted through your own ego and past experiences. You can’t ever comprehend the pain they went through because…you’re just not *them*.
But is trying to reach out and trying to opening up yourself an ultimately fruitless act though? Not really. I mean, the resolution that the author in MLEwL reached is more or less self-admittance and opening up regarding who you are and what do you want to do in life. She’s still kind of a mess in a way, but by the manga’s end, she’s now in a better place emotionally than she was in the beginning. So in the end, even though I was disappointed again and again over my incapability to complete connect with someone, its still a rewarding thing for me to do when I got it “right”.