The sound of loneliness | Inquirer Opinion

The sound of loneliness

I often wonder if the loneliness that sits in the pit of my stomach is meant to be perpetual. I’m not talking about the short-lived response to unfortunate news. I’m talking about loneliness in the form of a companion I’ve grown familiar with.

Recognizing and coming to terms that the overly sensitive and introspective child is still in me did not happen overnight. A dull headache ensues. A tender spot in the middle of my chest opens up. A heart strains from a tug.

When I ask myself, “Where does this loneliness come from?” I am left in a loop of frustration that dabbles with further questions.

I recently came across this recurring TikTok trend of a girl harmonizing with the sound of her kitchen fan. Every time it shows up in my feed, I scroll through the responses, and I am never left without a punch in the gut. What is so special about it? Why do so many people relate to it?To me, the sound reminded me of my melancholy’s presence. It pierces into experiences unique to us. And while there are no two perfectly identical experiences, we can still, to a certain degree, find alikeness in other people’s gut-wrenching anecdotes. It is moments like that that remind me of how human emotions are specific but universal; they trump existential dread by finding connection even through inanimate objects and making something beautiful out of it, like a song.


I go about my days, some good, some not. I carry it around like an invisible balloon tethered to my shirt tag, light enough to ignore it sometimes, light enough to think it won’t burst. Until one day, it catches up to me. It appears on my doorstep and knocks the wind out of my body without asking permission, like a pummeling fist on a door, making no sound. It welcomes itself. It lingers because it wants to and because I don’t know how to deal with it.

Is this sadness born out of the confines of our solitary habits? I don’t think so. Finding meaning in your solitude is counterproductive when loneliness is denied, pointing an easy way out: the impulse to retreat. It’s easy to wallow in a cesspool of gloom, to hurt others when you’re in pain. Even more so, it is easier to spiral into the habit of self-isolation, eventually becoming more and more comfortable with it. But the only way through is to do the seemingly impossible—to stand in the eye of a hurricane, maybe also dance in it.

I’ve only become comfortable swimming in open water quite recently. Last year, I was living on a small island with close access to the beach. While I’ve learned how to swim underwater from the community that I lived in, I taught myself how to keep afloat. I’m still learning to tread water without the fear of not feeling the sand below my feet, but small wins are never unaccounted for.

This is not to romanticize sorrow. Having to pin it down and name it plagued me for years. I’m trying to write this as clearly as I can in the hopes that somewhere along the way, I’ll get to know myself a little better. What I’m trying to say is I would like to believe that loneliness is not all meaningless. Later on, I’ve learned it can look back at you with a tender gaze. But in separating yourself from the feeling—from the droning voice inside your head saying, “Nobody cares! I don’t need anybody!”—you take over its helm.


In Buddhist philosophy, they say, “what we resist persists.” Our attempts to suppress negative emotions can backfire, leading to those emotions intensifying, lingering. The more we try to push away, the more they grip us. The same thing happens when we resist acknowledging loneliness or giving it another name. We can only be set free from its shadow when we move toward love. When we choose to move toward love. When we refuse to confer our remaining light on this selfish, self-centered, and self-perpetuating loneliness. Don’t spend your days too afraid to take in the moments of sheer joy because you’ve read somewhere it’s a premonition about something bad following—you can put it down. You are allowed to put the pain down. You don’t have to hold it as if it’s a shard of glass waiting to nick your skin.

There’s a world outside waiting for you, silly! Tread the waters until the shard in your pocket dulls its edges out.


Is it truly gone if, at the end of the day, it lays beside you, no matter how good of a day it was—there it is still? Distraction only gets you to a certain point. It only harbors resentment. Ultimately, it’s with gracious acceptance and deliberate effort that you’ll find yourself radicalized.

So, when you are ready to swim again or to enter a room full of people once more, maybe it will be there—greeting you like an old friend. And somewhere in another room, a kitchen fan hums, and you’ll know you can sing to it.

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Jerika Ordoño, 26, is a graphic designer by day and a ruminator by night from Pangasinan.

TAGS: opinion

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