“I study journalism. I consider myself an extroverted and very outgoing person. I have a lot of friends and I´m always cheerful and happy. But when something happens or troubles you, and you are alone, suddenly you don’t know what to do, who to call or who to talk to, because your friends are back in Vietnam or in the U.S.  They don’t really feel related to your problems. Your parents are a different generation, and your new friends… well, they are just new. So, you are alone and you don’t want to make it a big deal, and you don’t want to say: “Oh my god, I´m going through a depression”. But you were crying all day and spent your birthday alone in the dark – and that is pretty depressing. That is what happened to me last year. I had a lot of friends, but I didn´t feel… connected. I was so lonely.

I remember that on New Year´s Eve I was asking everyone around me if they know about any party that I could go to. I was just thinking: “I don’t care what kind of party it is, I don’t even care if I don’t know anyone at the party. I just want to be at some place during New Year´s Eve, I don’t want to be alone.” So one of my friends told me: “Let’s go to this party.” I went there and realized it was the kind of party where people bring drugs. I just sat there and thought to myself: “Is this what I want? Am I that desperate, that I would approach anyone, or join any group just to be surrounded by people?” And so I left the party, and because I got lost on my way, I spent my New Year´s Eve alone at a metro station. I looked up to the sky, and it was blistering with fireworks. I thought it was really beautiful. I felt liberated.

At that point, I realized that if I want to be happy and connected, I can do that on my own. Because being in a room full of people and still feeling isolated, that is the worst experience.

Now, sometimes I still feel lonely, as of course, we all do. But I would always remember that moment when I stood at that metro station, with all these people around me yelling, screaming, and having so much fun with their friends and family. I know that being at one of those parties can never make me as happy as when I was at that metro station enjoying the moment by myself.”

Photo courtesy of Mária Murcinová