I understand the intense and constricting nature of loneliness now. I used to think this section only applied to older 40-50s dudes who had never had a significant other, but now I understand that it affects everyone. I have realised after years and years of numbing my mind with porn and masturbating from the loneliness staring me down my entire childhood. Instead of facing my loneliness head on, I decided to seek instant gratification over leaving this state of emotions. Maybe it's because I've suppressed my sexual and intimate feelings and urges through masturbation, but now consistently reaching 2 weeks with relative ease, I realise how lonely I am. How much I lack a connection with my friends, girls, intimacy and my non-immediate family. I never realised how much I desired the touch of a girl, or a conversation with a girl. Or having a real conversation with real friends, where I didn't feel as though I was inferior or different. I don't know what to do. I keep in shape, exercise cardio 3 days a week and lift weights once a week. I practice guitar everyday. I focus on myself where I can, but I can't fill the hole inside of me. Is it because I can't love myself? Is it because I've never hugged a girl that I desired a relationship with? Is it because I've never had intimacy? I don't know. People say that to not feel lonely, you should focus on yourself and learn to love yourself, then you can find someone you truly like rather than desperation, but how do I do that? How do I love myself? For about a month now, I've been trying different writing practices, 10 things I'm grateful for, 3 things that made me proud of today and other similar things. But I feel as though these have a negligible effect in increasing my self esteem and love for myself. I've seen some people say that "Competence breeds confidence", in what sense? I'm the best ping pong player in my entire school, I'm a pretty bright kid, I'm decently coordinated in sports. But these don't give me confidence or self esteem, so what does give me these things? I've been taking cold showers as a way to train my willpower too. Are these feelings normal, am I just whining? I don't know how many soon-to-be 18 year olds feel this way.