Coming for an Erasmus to Barcelona was going to be a blast.
You know, it is Barcelona.
Paella. Playa. Sangría.
Everything you want.
Barcelona in my head was a celebration of student years and a sweet dot at the end of my studies. It was going to be my final semester and I wanted to make it unforgettable. Before the arrival, I was imagining walks in the lovely streets, afternoon laziness in parks, morning yoga on the beach, and most of all, the wonderful new connections with every fellow human being I was about to meet.
I have never used to be a lonely person. In all honesty, I have always been quite the opposite. The one with 1,000+ friends on Facebook and 50 unread messages on WhatsApp.
My good friend Harish used to say that I am unable to be alone. I would never agree:
„I can be alone! I just choose not to, because I like people!“
The truth was that when occasionally some sadness landed on my face, I would immediately go out and drown it in the laughter and fun with my friends. Oh god, did I hate dealing with it alone…
But Barcelona felt different.
From the Day One, I didn’t seem to be quite fitting with the crowd. My friends and family told me that it was impossible to feel „at home“ after only two weeks.
I guess they were right.
But the days were passing by and I still didn’t match with people of my kind. Don’t get me wrong, I was meeting hundreds. All kind souls, warm and caring. It just never really clicked in.
I was afraid of becoming numb. Numb is not good. What is good are highs and lows, cause that’s how you know you are alive. Numb is a stalemate. A coma. The straight line after your heart beats for the very last time.
All the people around me already had their own established groups. My housemates were constantly changing, coming and going without leaving a track. The few connections I made at the beginning were mostly with boys, and they all vanished once I mentioned I had a boyfriend.
I felt lonely.
No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t quite make it. Every missed connection was a stitch in my heart. All the people around me were just so, so far away.
Eventually, I let it go. Thinking of the loneliness itself was hurting me more than simply being numb. I was afraid of becoming numb. Numb is not good. What is good are highs and lows, flying and then falling, cause that’s how you know you are alive. Numb is a stalemate. A coma. The straight line after your heart beats for the very last time.
On one of my business trips back in Prague, I spoke to my friend Zuzka, and she gave away a wonderful wisdom:
„Maybe the purpose of your stay is not to be with people, but to be alone.“
What she said struck me. God knows I cannot be alone.
I spent my first weeks in Barcelona chasing people that were not ready to connect with me. Frustration about the lack of human connection brought me a big deal of loneliness and it was following me everywhere as a rainy cloud.
But maybe being alone is a lecture that Erasmus was going to teach me, and maybe it will make me once again a better human being.
Today, let´s raise our glass to loneliness and all the wonderful reflections it brings along.