Emotions: Loneliness

“A season of loneliness and isolation is when the caterpillar gets its wings. Remember that next time you feel alone.”

Mandy Hale


I knew it was only a matter of time before my images would be less abstract. Don’t get me wrong, but there are only so many lines, shapes, and blobs that I can play with before temptation sets in and I want to see something “real” taking shape. Not that a human butterfly is realistic, mind you, but it’s definitely more literal than my last few emotions.

The winged woman was something I created a while back, but it was a black and white vector image and there was very little feeling behind it. I saw, however, that her eyes and mouth seemed to express loneliness. “How could a butterfly be lonely?” I thought. “They’re far too beautiful to be lonely.”

That got me to thinking about what it feels like when you see something beautiful… like an orange and red sunset, an endless field of poppies, or a crystal clear turquoise ocean. When you get to witness something that amazing, you want someone else to experience it too. You want to bottle up that water… or pick a bouquet… or grab your camera and capture that flaming sky… so you can bring it all back, and share it with someone you love.

Since I really do love my solitude, that’s the only time loneliness really gets to me—when I experience something fabulous or magnificent and I’m all by myself. I can never really share that moment with someone who’s not standing there next to me. I can haul whatever back I think might work… but that bottle of water won’t look like the beach, the flowers will eventually die, and the photograph of the sunset—no matter how great the shot is—will never be as breathtaking as the real deal.

Anyway… that was my take on it, and that’s the emotion I went with as I added effects and color to my original illustration. I kept hesitating though, because originally I told myself that I’d only use positive emotions for this experiment. And then I found the quote above, by Mandy Hale, and was reminded that there’s a bit of beauty in our struggles and storms.

It’s no fun when we’re in the middle of them, but as we trudge forward, to the other side, we find strength, we find resilience, and we find courage. And then, like the caterpillar… we find our wings.

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