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  • Much is said about the virtues and pleasures  of individuality - of being someone who stands  

  • out from the crowd and delights in their  particularity. But let's also admit to how  

  • frankly lonely and frightening it can be to find  ourselves (yet again) in a peculiar minority,  

  • where the differences between us and others  strike us as bewildering rather than emboldening,  

  • when for example:

  • Everyone wants to gossip but we  prefer generosity and forgiveness.

  • Everyone is at ease but we're  melancholy and self-conscious.

  • Everyone is cheerful but we can't  let go of anxiety and apprehension.

  • Everyone is confident but we feel  suspicious and ashamed of ourselves.

  • Everyone seems contented in their couples  but we are still searching for a home.

  • Everyone worries passionately about the future  

  • of the planet - but we feel cold  and at times almost indifferent.

  • Everyone seems to love lifebut we're not sure we quite do.

  • At such times, we might benefit fromfew thoughts to alleviate the isolation:

  • We don’t know reality as well as we  imagine. What we believe 'everyone'  

  • is like may not be how they really areWe may have more friends than we think.

  • We are getting statistics wrong: these  four or eight or twelve people in a room  

  • don’t represent all of humanity. The  80 or so people in our social group  

  • are a miniscule part of the story. There  are still so many friends left to meet.

  • Perhaps our existing companions actually know  much more about the material we feel alone  

  • with than we suspect; they, and we, simply  haven't found a way to share our selves.

  • Maybe they will feel what we  feel one day - just not yet.

  • It may be fine to belong to a minorityMinorities have sheltered some of the  

  • most accomplished spirits. Isolation may beprice we pay for a certain complexity of mind.

  • We have art to bridge the gaps  between ourselves and others.  

  • Bookshops are an ideal destination for the lonely,  

  • given how many books were written because  their authors couldn't find anyone to talk to.

  • Maybe there are people nearby - perhaps in this  community - who would understand very well indeed.

Much is said about the virtues and pleasures  of individuality - of being someone who stands  

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