Loneliness and I are Frenemies


Urban Dictionary describes Frenemy as "someone who acts as your friend while having ulterior motives".  That perfectly explains my relationship with loneliness.  It makes me feel comfortable knowing that I can be by myself and enjoy that time on my own, however when I start to frequently choose to be by myself rather than join others out and about am I being self confident or retreating into my cloak of invisibility (AKA loneliness)?  

I have lived most of my life in large metropolitan cities in America, but recently moved to a small town in The Netherlands.  I have mostly lived in tropical or arid climates, but again I live in the Netherlands now.  I work at Research Institute, but I am not a scientist, I'm a video game designer. I am a black male, but live in a ocean of white faces.  The differences between myself/identity and current environment goes on, from taste in music and clothing to culinary preferences and even social behavior.  It is very hard to NOT feel lonely in such a contrasting environment.  Almost daily my differences surface to my attention and to the attention of others. Anonymity is a luxury I can never have here, and as a result solitude becomes my friend.  

Over the past 2.5 years I have lived here, this town has made me feel welcomed and accepted.  Colleagues turned into friends, friends turned into good friends, and despite the obvious ignorance that comes with a homogeneous society that you would find in the Netherlands, some of the relationships I have fostered here feel like lifelong friendships.  Personally, I would say one of my strengths is the ability to meet new people and enjoy the company of strangers easily, a classic example of an extrovert.  I define the best moments of my life as times spent with friends getting into or out of trouble and generally having a good time somewhere.  Outside of gaming as a hobby, my favorite pastimes are dancing and playing football (American football).  So why have I been fighting loneliness so much?  

Well, for one I said I feel "welcomed and accepted" not I feel at home.  

Culturally the differences between me and my environment are so great at times that they often feel insurmountable.  I can be out with friends at a bar having a good time, then encounter someone in that same group that asks me "Hey, you're that American guy right? Do you miss your gangsta n**** friends?" Or asked "So do you really get offended with Zwarte Piet"?  Admittedly I enjoy such conversations because it is an opportunity breed understanding and enlightenment across both cultures, however can you really feel at home if you have to constantly explain every joke reference, song reference, movie reference, language barriers, etc.  It can get exhausting. But what is the alternative? Stay home? Watch all of Netflix? Read the internet? Sometimes, the answer is yes.  But why I call loneliness a frenemy is because the more I say yes, the more I feel I am the architect of my own downfall.

Anyone else out there feel the same way? How did you deal?


Ken Koontz
Creative Director of GEMH Lab

GEEK, Game designer, artist, producer, anime and video game enthusiast, American football player, and as of recently a newb gardener. I'm pretty much always down for new ventures and experiences - O' ley do it!


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