Sitting Alone: A Talk about Belonging

Being a student in Ottawa, it’s pretty great. It’s a small town (compared to Toronto) so we get discounted bus passes.

That’s great cause I get to save money on bus fares. I can move throughout the Ottawa region, and even the Gatineau/Hull region (Quebec). I love it. But there’s something weird about sitting on the bus. No one sits next to me. Okay this is an exaggeration, some people sit next to me, like

  • the friend that got on the bus with me
  • very elderly people
  • children

That’s weird, right? I’m not just overthinking things. I tend to overthink things so when I started noticing I brushed it away. Then at a point I start rationalising, “Maybe people want to sit alone”, “it’s cause they’re with friends”, “I have two bags” etc. I rationalised a lot.

I would even rationalise when the bus was full and people were standing and there was a free seat beside me. I would say to myself “Tiffany maybe their stop is the next one.” And they didn’t get off at the next stop I would find one excuse or the other.

I told myself many times that I needed to calm down, this was just me being extra. I decided to ask around, and black girlfriends said they had experienced the same thing.

If you are on social media you may have heard about Solange’s experience at a concert. You may have read her post about belonging. I remember when I read her post and had a passionate discussion with my friend. We spoke about encounters with various people who made us feel like we did not belong. And we decided to put it behind us

I’m tired. I’m tired of making excuses for people who make me feel like I am not welcome. I’m tired of seeing people look at the seat beside me and averting their gaze if we have eye contact. Most importantly I’m tired of feeling like I do not belong.

Sometimes I still chalk it up to overthinking. I am not the only one who sits alone on the bus. I do have more than one bag sometimes, some people just prefer standing. But I belong, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s people not sitting beside be on the bus or people acting like I’m invisible in class. I shouldn’t have to feel like I do not belong. Because I belong, we all do.

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