I’m often alone, lonely sometimes.
Mskina, they call me. Poor thing. Because I live alone, far from home. I’m a fragile, cute, lonely little girl.
But I’m not mskina. I am alone in many ways. I’m a lone American with no family or close friends nearby facing a cultural barrier between me and virtually everyone around me. But only lonely from time to time.
When I’m not alone, I like to be with people who I can feel alone with. Like being with them doesn’t change me. Or it might even make me more me (rare). Being away from these people hasn’t hurt our bond, I just have to be alone with them over FaceTime for now.
Surrounded by others who don’t fall into that category can feel like an imposition on my identity. Sometimes in a good way, presenting a learning opportunity. Sometimes in a bad way, lacking any chance to meaningfully express myself or connect. In the US, I have more influence on when I put myself in these unknown situations. In Morocco, just going outside can lead to social pressure.
The most difficult part of being alone here is that I don’t have someone I can be alone with. Censoring myself to abide by cultural norms and avoid alienation makes me wonder if anyone here will ever know the real me. Maybe I’ll realize that some of the things I’m giving up or keeping to myself weren’t material to my identity, though I know some are. Being alone here amounts to more than being alone, it’s when I get to be myself.
When I’m alone, there is no pressure but my own. There are no expectations or disappointments but my own. I’ve been searching for motivation for years, distracted by anxiety and stress stemming from how I interact with people and situations outside of my relationship with myself. That’s not to say I don’t struggle internally with what I expect from myself, trying to figure out what I’m capable of. But I can’t think of a better way to spend my energy.