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Lonely Like Naruto} ?> Feeling alone in a crowd is the worst. At events, parties, or even just walking through a mall, I’ve watched people laughing with their friends and wished mine were there with me (my two best friends live hundreds of miles away and I only see them twice a year). I’ve watched a daughter holding hands with her father, and wished my father had behaved that way with me. I’ve seen families play together at the park and wished I was the daughter with the grin on her face, looking up at two parents who are still together.
Many people believe that loneliness means you don’t get out of the house much or you’re craving a romantic relationship, but the sort of cure for loneliness I’ve wanted in my heart is simple, innocent companionship. This is a desire that Naruto understands.
Naruto grew up surrounded by people, but not by friends. He became an orphan within the first hour of his birth. He longingly watched families happy together. He wished for friends, but the kids around him neglected him. He was shunned for a past he had no knowledge of. They treated him as a parasite. In retaliation, Naruto began acting out to make people stop ignoring him. He played juvenile pranks and became the outspoken class clown. This gained him attention, but it didn’t gain him what he truly wanted: friendship.
“The pain of being alone is completely out of this world, isn’t it? I don’t know why, but I understand your feelings so much, it actually hurts.” —Naruto Uzumaki
I didn’t act out for attention as a child, but I wanted friends. I had a few in middle school and high school, but after we moved I lost most of them. When distance put my friendships to the test they failed. For two years after I graduated high school, I had no good friends. All of my old ones were long distance and I couldn’t make any new ones no matter how many times I tried.
Naruto didn’t start gaining friends until he stopped focusing on himself, on gaining attention, and simply just worked on becoming a splendid ninja; in turn, he matured and strengthened.
When I focused on becoming a writer, I began to gain friendships. I made friends at conferences, in online groups, and on blogs. I found fast friendships where I could be myself and felt welcome to share about my life. For most of these relationships, it takes a lot of effort and planning for us to see each other because of long distance, but those times are some of my best memories. I think this is because my friends and I have similar interests and that can make bonds easier to form. I believe I had to grow first before I had room emotionally for good friends. I had to be willing to take risks, to trust. I learned to be more honest. Feeling like I need to hide parts of myself increases my loneliness, but being vulnerable and accepted makes me feel loved.
I still feel lonely when I wish they could be there for holidays or birthdays or even to just go to a movie together. It reminds me of when Naruto had to leave to train with Jiraiya-sensei for a time and he was away from his friends. The time he had had away from Sakura, Shikamaru, Kakashi, and others didn’t detract from his friendships, though. When they reunited, their relationships were stronger than ever despite the distance, despite the period of loneliness.
Trusting others, being vulnerable—it’s difficult stuff. I don’t like opening up because I risk getting hurt. But those friendships I’ve made when I step out of my comfort zone are worth it. I still feel lonely often, and I don’t think I will ever be able to completely banish that feeling in this world, but I’m grateful for the memories of contentment I have, for the relationships I keep, and for the vulnerability we share.
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