Alone in a Crowd

Twitter is ablaze today with reactions to the passing of Trey Pennington. With over 110,000 Twitter followers and 5,000 Facebook friends, he was by all accounts a social media marketing A-lister. I followed him on twitter, but other than that I didn’t know him. My thoughts on the situation really have less to do with the who, than with the why of the situation. The reports that I have seen trace the reason back to depression and the resulting loneliness. This struck a chord with me as I have battled each of these. What I’m about to share is very personal and hard to admit. I didn’t set out to write this; somehow it just happened, but I feel compelled to share it and hopefully start a conversation.

I’ve never felt suicidal, but I know what it’s like to be alone in a crowd.

My personality is such that I am very comfortable in crowds. I love networking. I love meeting new people. I never want to miss a tweetup. I can pretty much talk to anybody about anything. I love a party. I remember names easily. I make a lot of connections, know a lot of people, and I’m great at connecting the people I know with each other. Most people who know me in these environments would probably think that relationships come naturally for me and that I have a lot of friends. They couldn’t be further from the truth.

The fact is, I’ve had trouble building deep, long-term relationships my entire life.  I’ve had and currently have a few casual friends for whom I am truly thankful (more recently thanks to Twitter 🙂 ), but other than my wife, none that I would consider a “best friend.” For most of my life, I just ignored it thinking it didn’t matter.  I’ve made excuses from time to time about being busy, the fact that relationships take time or just that I hadn’t met anyone that I thought was “best friend material,” but the reality is that those were just that–excuses.  To me, building friendships is like a dance where you never know if you’re supposed to be leading or following.  For those of us who succumb to our insecurity, we don’t want to take the lead for fear of rejection.  We don’t want to impose. We don’t want to be seen as needy. We’re not “needy,” we’re just … lonely.

So why do I admit this? Why be so vulnerable? Why risk a reputation? Will some people think less of me for posting this? Probably. Do I post this because I’m looking for sympathy or some sort of reaction or because I’m hoping that my new bff will be reading this article? No. That’s not my style. I’m writing this because I am undoubtedly speaking for many people who are in the same boat, but feel weird admitting it.

If you need a friend, know this–you’re not alone.

Your thoughts?

3 Replies to “Alone in a Crowd”

  1. I felt myself nodding the entire length of your post, Brian. I’m exactly the same way… and you’ve seen me networking to know it’s true. But, long-standing relationships have not been easy since I was in high school or even college. Alas, you are far from alone in this feeling. You have many friends that share your journey in building those types of relationships – and even dealing with depression. It’s not an easy journey but it is times like this that we learn what strength truly is and how strong we truly are to continue working for those things that are important to us – even quality relationships.

    1. Thanks not only for taking the time to stop by and read, but for taking the step to comment.  It’s one thing to know intellectually that you’re not alone, it’s a quite another to have people step up and say, “Me too.”  I’m hoping there’s a whole lot of us that can step out and say it.  Perhaps the expressed vulnerability will be the conduit to deeper relationships.

  2. Thanks not only for taking the time to stop by and read, but for taking the step to comment.  It’s one thing to know intellectually that you’re not alone, it’s a quite another to have people step up and say, “Me too.”  I’m hoping there’s a whole lot of us that can step out and say it.  Perhaps the expressed vulnerability will be the conduit to deeper relationships.

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