I have another post patiently waiting in line to be uploaded, but I just don’t want to deal with it right now. This is what is on my mind and in my heart, so this is what I’ll be writing about.
If “True to Your Heart” popped into your head just now, too, then you are my hero and thus get a pretend high five for it. You rock.
Anyway, I was sitting on my couch at home after working all afternoon, and I realized something awful, horrible, miserable, unacceptable: I am lonely.
I’ve always contemplated loneliness; ever since I was little, I would consider what made people lonely and why they just couldn’t get up, get out into the world, and go meet others. I’ve always thought about why we get lonely and why we just accept it. I’ve also always thought about how some of the loneliest people will never let you know they are lonely. They could be the richest, most powerful people in the world and know, literally, millions, but chances are, they are also the loneliest. You’ll never see it, though; I mean, when you know millions, how much time do you really have to stop and let those millions get to know you? And when you know millions, wouldn’t it be beyond embarrassing to admit that you’re lonelier than ever before?
Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave. They’ll never know, right?
Now, considering the fact that, throughout my entire life, I’ve always had friends–and also considering the fact that I’m not planning on and do not ever plan on being famous (which means I’ll never know millions, thank the Lord)–I never thought I’d be lonely. Even when I’m alone, I’m typically not bothered because I’m an introvert; I thrive off of me-time!
But I guess four-and-a-half months of only hanging out with your family outside of classes and work will get to even the toughest of introverts, the most secluded of wallflowers, the strongest of independent women who don’t need no man (or friends…).
Seriously, looking through my various social media accounts tonight has put a huge damper on my day. While everyone else I know is out there having fun and living their lives, I am either studying, commuting, working, cleaning, writing, or sleeping. That’s it. I do nothing else! Isn’t that pathetic? While everyone else I know is out there partying with their new BFFs, I’m either at home partying with my computer or at work partying with a rack of clothes.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I love me-time! I typically never want to leave my writing station (a.k.a. my couch) or flannel bed sheets. I’m one of those people who think a night at home with a good book and a hot cup of chai is the highlight of my week. In fact, I advise on the regular that people stay home, relax, rest-up, and enjoy some alone time to reflect and decompress. It helps with the go, go, go lives that us Americans lead.
I think the huge issue is that I’ve had a little too much me-time lately. I’ve been by myself so often that I feel like I don’t even have friends anymore. Granted, I know I still have friends; I just feel like I don’t because I never see them anymore. I’m too busy for a social life! Yet I’m literally dying to do something with somebody! I need some human interaction with those I don’t share blood with. I feel a little bit like I’ve been in solitary confinement for the past half of a year. I need people!
Wow. As an introvert, I never thought I’d find myself saying that!
But no one is ever a full-blown intro/extrovert. We all need interaction, and we all need alone time. As an introvert, however, human interaction with strangers just doesn’t really ever cut it. I like intimacy and being able to talk about my life and problems or debate the Ebola outbreak with someone who actually cares what I think about it. The strangers I see on the street don’t care about me! So when I say I need people, I truly mean that I need my friends. They’re the ones who I can connect with beyond the surface level. They’re the ones who give me the meaningful human interactions I crave, the conversations that aren’t plastic. And while I still get those with my family, it’s kind of nice to have them with others, too, you know? Everyone needs an outsider’s perspective here and there.
Okay, I know you’re saying that in order to get the deep interactions I crave, I first have to get to know people. After all, that is how I got the friends I have now, isn’t it? Yes, it is, but that was different! I was stuck in a classroom with the same people for seven hours a day, 180 days a year, 13 years straight. After that amount of time together, it would be insane if you didn’t know your peers on a more personal level.
The problem now is that I’m not forced to be around anyone, yet everyone I’m around is forced to be around each other. Basically, because I don’t live on or right next to campus, that means I get left out of the social equation. I’m just a floater, an acquaintance who pops up here and there, someone who everyone gets to know only at face value. And when you see all these people who know each other on a deeper level–and you’re the only one within a three mile radius who doesn’t–it gets a bit lonely.
That loneliness is amplified when I remember that I am nowhere near my best friends, those who’ve helped me make it through awkward situations since 2001. We grew up together, went to school together, and practically lived together for all I’m concerned. But they’ve gone their separate ways for the time being, so I never see them. While they’re in Far Away Land living and loving life, having new experiences, I’m stuck in a rut of monotony. While they’re becoming best friends with their roommates and classmates, my roommate is myself, and I’m not around my classmates enough to build a
bear deeper relationship. While my friends are getting to know people by being forced to spend time with them, I’m simply building a lot of acquaintances, people who know my face or who know my name but who probably don’t know both and who definitely don’t know me. My friends are making friends, and I’m playing with Barbies. It’s plastic people with fake conversations who never even have a chance of getting to know me because they’re so closed off by now to letting others in that they’re perfectly incapable of human interactions. Barbies and Kens.
It’s a bit haunting, actually, how many people don’t care about deeper interactions where I’m at. I mean, even though I hate meeting people because of the meaningless small talk that occurs (hence why I don’t go to parties), I still hate being an outsider even more, so I will go out of my way to talk to the people I’m exposed to if I feel there’s no other option. I’m introverted, after all, not socially anxious.
But every time I step out of my way to make friends of late, I get rejected. And it’s because I’m just the acquaintance, just the nice girl that others can talk to when there’s no one else around. They know my name, they recognize my face, they have their buddies–why would they need anything else? Why would they need me? I have my true friends somewhere, right?
Right. But it’s nice to have friends everywhere, not just somewhere, you know.
Now I need to make one quick point of clarification: This post does not apply to my dear learning community. We’re all slowly getting to know each other very deeply; everyone there is lovely and truly cares about each other. It’s those outside of that small group of twenty-some kids I’m having trouble with, and I just wanted to make that clear. I don’t want the real friends that I have made (but just don’t have time to hang out with) to think that I think they’re fake and I hate them. Because that would be bad.
Another side note: I’m not bitter. As I’m writing this, I’m starting to think that I might sound like it, but I assure you I’m not. I’m happy for all the people in the world who are surrounded by and making friends as I speak. I think we can all agree that it’s not an easy thing to do, so to those who are doing it, I say congratulations! You can do something that the majority of us are absolutely horrible at, and that deserves praise.
I also don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining about silly little “first world” problems with this post, either. I just wanted to share what I think about feeling lonely because, like I said earlier, I’ve never really ever felt it before. And with something so new to me, it just felt right to write about it. That’s how I tend to come to a conclusion on things that are troubling me, anyway, so since what’s troubling me is loneliness, my general incapability of making friends, being the one that no one connects with in a room full of deep relationships, and being the ultimate third wheel, I wrote this post.
But has it actually helped me figure out my dilemma like I hoped it would? Have I come to any conclusions?
Well, right now, “New York, New York” is playing softly in the distance, which reminds me of New Year’s Eve. That, in turn, reminds me of how, even though surrounded by thousands of people, Dick Clark was still probably the loneliest guy there every year, being isolated up in the sky with only a few very formal interactions as he stared at the meaningful relationships–the fun and festivity of people and their loved ones–occurring on the streets below.
Which brings me to my conclusion: We’re all going to be lonely at some point in time. It’s an emotion, so we’re bound to feel it eventually. I guess it all just comes down to how we handle it. Do we embrace the solitude, or do we get down about it? Do we do like Dick Clark and enjoy the distance from the craziness of friends, or do we tell ourselves that it’s not supposed to be like that, that we must be doing something wrong since we aren’t always with others?
The decision is up to each of us. Personally, I’m picking the former, for Dick Clark, even if he was actually lonely, always looked pretty darn happy if I do say so myself. And I’d take a lonely-yet-happy combo any day over clinically depressing thoughts.