Sir Anthony Hopkins on Loneliness

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I once watched an interview with the actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, where he described living with loneliness despite all of his successes, and his marriage. I found it incredibly brave of him to be so open about a feeling that is so damaging, so nihilistic. It’s a feeling I’m all too familiar with.

I’ve looked for footage on Youtube and the like, but all I’ve found in reference to this was this Daily Mail article.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel the cutting in the sternum, the feeling of self-pity and sadness that has followed me around my whole life. I’m different. I’m learning-disabled and I’m inadequate.

In those ways I empathise totally with Sir Anthony, although his dyslexia differs to my condition. In recent years, though, I’ve come to realise that the solution to my problem is much different to the one I perceived it to be for most of my life. When I was 17, friends would say to me, “Why do you want a girlfriend?” and I’d say, “I dunno,” even though I knew exactly why. I was lonely and wanted companionship on a more meaningful level than friendship or casual sex (the latter of which I couldn’t find either).

Yet, on nights out, I’d pull more than some of my mates would, who were generally considerably happier than me. But I’d fuck it up with these girls every time. I’d ruin it through hesitancy and an overbearing feeling that she’s going to realise I’m not who she thinks I am, that I’m much less than the person she perceived me to be. And because I thought she’d see that, I showed it. So she did see that. I have been my own worst enemy my whole life.

Like Sir Anthony, I’ve been told that I’m stupid. I’ve also been told I’m ugly, I’ve been told I’m going to be killed, I’ve been vilified and abused hundreds of times, and- like Sir Anthony’s traumas- this happened during school days. It happened at a period of time when the brain and the body are growing fast and making a huge and uncomfortable jump between childhood and adulthood. It happened when I was trying to piece together the way the world works, and when I was trying to figure out how I should fit in with it. I’m 31 now. I still have no clue. But I realise that the childhood critics weren’t just wrong, they were the total opposite of right- As an adult I’ve had writing published, I have a degree, I’ve held down a public sector white-collar job for half a decade, and the majority of girls I’ve pulled have come to me and made it obvious that they want me before I speak to them. I believed the opposite of so many truths. This solidified my loneliness for many years.

The remedy for this self-hatred? Self love. The heartache wanes the more respect you have for yourself. Do what you’re good at. Stay busy with it. Be proud of it and proud of yourself and- as clichéd as it is, be positive about these things. Instead of thinking about the problems, think about the overcoming of these problems. Blow up any minor achievement and treat it as a major one. And with these achievements comes self-appreciation, and the fading away of loneliness.

Loneliness is not the absence of a partner in your life. It’s the lack of appreciation of yourself. Remember: Women want men who are happy with themselves, so if you want a girlfriend, fix that first.

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