“Ari, you need to make loneliness your friend.”
My mentor, Pastor Bruce Benson, told me my senior year of college.
I was born in Tokyo to Christian parents. Then I lived in São Paulo from age 12 to 18. Came to US for college and have been here ever since. I’ve always valued uniqueness, and I succeeded. I don’t find many with this background. Christians are rare in Japan to begin with, but having grown up abroad, I am often at loss of words with fellow Japanese. I don’t relate very well with them. Though I want to.
In Brazil I went to a Japanese then English-speaking school, so I never made truly Brazilian friends. I didn’t learn Portuguese. While moving there was a game changer for my family, that era feels more like a footnote to me. A catalyst for further developments. Not much of Brazilian culture is left in me.
In US I arrived first to Iowa and then went to school in Minnesota. Don’t hang out with other Japanese people, my father told me. You will not learn English very well if you do. I heeded that directive, perhaps a bit too well. Most of my friends have been Caucasians, more female than male. I am so used to hanging out with people who are not like me. Going back to Japan and seeing everybody else look similar is disorienting.
Now that I’m single for the first time in adult life, I get a lot of alone time. I rented a big place that my kids and I adore. I work from home. I see no one when they are not with me.
And yes, this feels lonely. I long for deep and meaningful connections. But this loneliness feels somehow sweeter and not at all desperate. I feel lonelier with people, and that stings. Using my empath antenna, I quickly pivot and show the side that has the most in common with who I am with. Seldom do I reveal all. But then, none of us ever do. I am no different than everyone else. We are all lonely people.
Having foreseen this, Pastor Benson gave me a good advice. I did make friends. I am lonely and loving it.
I hope you are, too.