Guest Post: The Warmth of Loneliness

“Lonely Journey” by Hans Hofmann

by Gemma

Today I’m not sure where I fit into the world. I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt like I fit into the world. Not that I’m different or special or unique, but each day I wake up and wonder if I’ll ever feel comfortable. Am I supposed to feel comfortable? Am I supposed to want to feel comfortable?

The first breath of each morning is filled with excitement. I’ve been given another day in my blessed human form. I ride the train for two hours each morning, excited for class. The closer I move towards feeling God through the bliss of numbers and algorithms, the further I slip away from the beliefs I used to hold dear. Believe me, this is not the life I ever thought I would live. A returned Mormon missionary, someone who was married in the Helsinki temple. “What did you stop doing? What did you start doing?” Is my favorite response. I guess I started living genuinely. I spent so many years of my life trying to fit in. I loved growing up in the Mormon community, I loved the idea of my faith, but as I got older I realized how much guilt I harbored for not genuinely sharing these beliefs, although I tried for so long.

I hate weekends, I hate halting my acquisition of knowledge to perform ordinary tasks like washing dishes and organizing my home. I hate the pressure I feel to make a firm decision on my beliefs every Sunday. I’m a g*ddamn 24-year-old, what 24-year-old has all the answers? My greatest depth of loneliness is felt when I attend church. This is the place I feel the craziest, but sitting in my home as my husband sits alone on a pew is the worst feeling in the world. So I go. I slip on my normal people underwear, a normal people dress and listen to the talks and lessons. I love sitting in on the third hour, a room full of women sharing their life experiences. But I can’t help but feel lonely in that room. As they talk about temple rituals and eternal marriage, flashbacks of that first night of peeling off my garments and laying in bed next to my husband as he held me as I sobbed – they fill my mind. I want to run away. But I live in Utah Valley, my husband attends BYU. I can’t just pick up and leave.

How did I get involved in computer science? Why am I so passionate about something that seems like and often feels like torture? Perhaps the loneliest subject in many people’s minds. 10 hours of silence, running tests on a computer probably sounds like a nightmare to many – It is my remedy. It is the only thing in this world that I know is true. Logic, math, are basic truths I can always fall back on. I feel so happy as I create the magic. I don’t feel like an accident. The pieces are all here, and I’m dying to put them all together. Perhaps one day I will finally understand why I exist, where I really fit into the universe. A Sikh Army veteran coding on my right, a Catholic immigrant keying away on my left, an Indian who was the only Hindu at his high school sits directly in front of me. We are all there for answers. The beautiful, loneliness warms the room as a bunch of oddballs perform their rituals. The clicking of keys, a sacred chant. The changing screen, a vision. I am content, I am smiling, I am spiritual again.


 Gemma is a 24-year-old computer science student at the University of Utah. Being a female in computer science has been somewhat of a lonely endeavor, but she also lives in Provo and her beliefs have shifted which feels like a uniquely solitary journey. Perhaps this piece of her life might help another woman out there who feels similarly.

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6 Responses

  1. Amelia Christensen says:

    This is beautiful. Thank you.

  2. Florence says:

    You may not “fit” in the world, but you definitely belong. Thank you for your tender, honest sharing.

  3. JustAnotherLurker says:

    Another CS woman here, we are somewhat a rare breed and you definitely have to be a particular kind of person to enjoy it. I am with you on the loneliness on many levels. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Maegan says:

    Lovely. And you are not alone.

  5. Sally says:

    What a refreshingly real representation. I feel like I’ve rarely belonged anywhere in my whole life, so I empathize. You’ll always belong in the non-belongers club. If you want, that is. <3

  6. Thank you for posting here. I hope you will continue to share your journey with us. I have a feeling there are many you could relate to in our community.

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