Living With Isolation

Are confidence, strength, and dedication all we need?

Eric ZhangJanuary 2, 2022

I felt a little bit exhausted this afternoon, mostly sad about my apparent isolation and loneliness. It’s the question: who will be there to accompany me in a year? Where are the lasting friendships? It’s a constant cause for some emotional turmoil.

Even if I don’t perhaps have lasting close personal relationships with others, I still can find solace in art forms: writing, music, and creative design. Consuming deep and beautiful music is a particularly illuminating experience, and it never really gets tiring. I feel a different emotional pull and discovery something new each time I listen to something. New harmonies, motives, interpretations.

I have no doubt that wherever I am, as long as I choose to surround myself with people, I will have no trouble making casual short-term acquaintances. The trouble comes in times like these, where I hope to have closer lasting relationships to rely on.

In no terms does a level of personal accomplishment or professional success reflect a sense of belonging or a community. In fact, even understanding the world better, excelling in a technical capacity, or having more creative empathy than others around you can alienate you from them. To the fullest extent that your feelings and experiences are novel, they are invisible, unless you can nurture and share them through writing.

Earlier this year at Harvard, I was chatting with an underclassmen about myself. One goal I verbalized was to “do things that I would be proud of 6 months, a year, and 4 years into the future.” I think this statement still rings true to my ears today, except with one amendment. Replace pride with wonder: that insatiable desire to create and make known one’s own footprint on the world, to transcend the impermanence of human experience by sharing beauty with others.

Though there’s not much more I can currently do about the people I meet, with the pandemic raging on, there’s a lot I can work on individually in tuning an aesthetic taste, exploring leads, and finding inner inspiration. And the best place for this an online presence. Even if the connections you make are not as intimate as what is possible in real life, the unparalleled diversity and global access to other digital creatives is, in my experience, tremendously conducive to growth.

I can say that even if connections to other people are transient, the joy and wonder we feel as humans is not. Creating that and experiencing it are noble pursuits in themselves.