Harris looked around. He was sitting alone sipping his coffee while everyone else was laughing with the people at their tables. He felt bad about his state of affairs. He felt worse as he thought more about it. He has never felt so lonely. Though he did not have too many friends, he always had some people around him. A couple of years ago, people would always flock to him seeking his help. Things changed in the last few months. He moved to a new position in the company. Unlike his previous designation, he had little authority in this new position. He did not have much influence in other other teams. Neither did he have any interaction with other people formally. But, he was sure his friends would be with him and he was glad he chose a less demanding job. But, as time passed, his friends stopped meeting him as he could not help most of them with his new job. His earlier job gave him the advantage of helping a lot of people. He thought he made friends for life when he helped some people in his previous job. But, it took some time for him to realize after he moved into his new job. Some of his best buddies did not have time for him and others did not even respond to his messages. He did not feel odd about it.
Harris decided to give up on these negative thoughts and focus on things that needed his attention. He picked his mobile phone and dialed his father’s number. His father, who is not so used to being polite, said, “How come you are calling at this hour? Don’t you have any friends to chat at the coffee hour.”
Harris said, “My friends are here. I called you up to ask about your doctor’s appointment. Are you going to the hospital today? I’m pretty sure you would have come up with some reason to avoid visiting the hospital.”
His father is not used to taking advice from anyone. He said, “I know what I need to do. Remember that I am your father. You take care of your career and your friends first. I told you not to move out of that influential post. But, you never listen to me.”
Ignoring his father’s questions, nonchalantly Harris said, “Where is mom?”
His father realized that it did not make any sense to talking to Harris. His mother got on the line and asked him if he had his lunch and inquired about his wife and kids. She said, “You guessed it right. Your father does not want to go to the hospital. He says that he is alright.”
After deciding that they cannot convince his father, they gave up and starting laughing about him by cracking some jokes.
After his coffee break, Harris silently walked back to his cubicle. A few months ago, he would have never walked alone to his cubicle. He would be a part of a huge group and they would be laughing loudly over some joke or discussing seriously about the changing political landscape.
Harris decided that he had to do something about this weird loneliness. He could not talk much about this to his wife as she was also against his move to the new position.
Harris did not want to meet a prick. He logged into his computer and decided to search for some online therapist to deal with this silly depression. Within a few minutes, he came up with a unique website. It offered online counselling through chat. Harris just needed to pay a couple of dollars. Harris liked the idea and decided to give it a chance.
After a couple of minutes, an online counselor logged in. Tom was the name of the counselor.
Tom: Hi H. I understand that you do not want to disclose your name. How are you today?
Harris: Hi Tom. Thanks for understanding. I don’t feel good today. I feel lonely. Can you help come out of this depression? I want to come out of it before it becomes too serious.
Tom: Glad that you decided to deal with it before it becomes serious. Before I can help you, can you tell me the context?
Harris explained Tom about his previous job and his new job. And, how his friends within the company and out have started ignoring him.
Tom: How much time do you spend worrying about this?
Harris: For the last couple of weeks, I am not able to focus on anything else. This is the only thing that is bothering me. I even tried getting back to my old job. It is not possible. I miss those good times.
Tom: What is it that you hate about your current situation?
Harris: I told you already. I hate this loneliness. I want my friends back. I want those wonderful moments again.
Tom: What is so wonderful about them?
Harris: I used to laugh and always feel happy. I used to get a lot of respect from everyone. People used to respond to me immediately. Now, they ignore me. I am unable to digest it.
Tom: Who are these people?
Harris: Some of my colleagues and friends from college days. Or, most of them.
Tom: Alright. Why did they respect you then?
Harris: I know it. They respected me because of my job.
Tom: What does this tell you about them?
Harris: This tells me that they are selfish people and are only nice to me when they know that I will be of use to them.
Tom: Is there anyone else who always considers you important?
Harris: Yes. My family. My parents always dote on me. My wife and my kids consider me to be very important.
Tom: Imagine that you lost this job. Will these people change? Will they stop respecting you?
Harris: My father would insult me. My mom would be more worried about me and would be a strong source of support for me. My wife…I’m not sure…she is very tricky already. My kids know not much…they are too young…they will respect me anyway.
Tom: Do you think there will be someone who will respect you even then and treat you the same?
Harris: I cannot think of anyone. Either they will be more sympathetic or overtly critical.
Tom: Though I don’t know much about you, I know one person who will respect you even then.
Harris: You must be kidding. I cannot think of anyone.
Tom: It is you. Unless you did not really try to know about yourselves, you will be the only one person who will know completely about yourself.
Harris: This is weird. But, I’m liking it. Please go on.
Tom: The problem in your case is that you stopped respecting yourself after moving to this new job. If a friend did not respond, you tried calling them again and again. This is because you think you have lost some respect in their minds. But, you lost respect in your own mind.
Harris sent a happy faced smiley as a response.
Tom: Whenever you are alone, consider it as a bliss of solitude and not as the curse of loneliness. You can do that if you have a list of tasks you want to do for yourself when you have the time and when you are all by yourself. You have always been thinking about others and did not think about yourself. Beginning today, focus on you and love yourself.
Harris: It all makes sense now. Thanks.
Harris logged off the website and stepped out of his cubicle. He walked to his car and drove to the beach. He immediately recollected all the things he wanted to do in college. There were so many hobbies he wanted to pursue. There were so many places he wanted to visit. There were so many games he wanted to learn and play. Harris decided to begin his life anew.
Three months later, Harris changed completely and became a very happy man. He decided to log back to the counseling website and thank Tom.
When he tried to log in to the website, he got an error saying, “The website does not exist at this address.”
Using his technical skills, he searched for the history of the website and realized that the website was online only for a couple of months. Some people considered it as a scam while others considered it as a cult. Harris was confused.