Saturday, February 23, 2013

On Being Alone

I'm not sure when it happened, or if it has always been this way. For having been in my head for twenty-something years, I sure can talk a lot about how I know nothing at all when it comes to why I am the way that I am. But I think it's time to accept this fact: I am a solitary creature.

I am used to having friends that come from a lot of different social circles and sometimes I spend time with people who are so enveloped in one group of friends that it just boggles my mind a bit. And for the brief snippet of my life that I'm spending with them, I feel that I am a part of something so different than what I am used to. A reliable safety net for what you're going to do at any given time. When you get off work, you don't ask them if they want to hang out, but rather, what do they want to do when you hang out-- because the aforementioned hanging out is assumed as a baseline. Just thinking about that feels so warm and inviting. Unconditional love. No matter how much we've already been seeing each other, we still want to see each other more. 

Cat roomie being a sweetheart for once in his life
Obviously this could be problematic, but discussing that is kind of pointless since I can barely wrap my mind around the initial concept to begin with. It's difficult because I operate in such a different way. My time is very much my own. It's probably how I managed to be in a long distance relationship for three years. Just yesterday, N had to witness me make the realization that as an adult, I've never been in a relationship with someone who I saw on a regular basis/lived near me (it wasn't pretty). I don't have one set group of friends that are my default go-to buddies. I remember being very social all throughout school.. but now all of a sudden, I live by myself in a studio apartment! Well, that's half true. I have the cat-roomie (though I'm not sure if that makes it better or worse). In any case, that's how I live, and I think that's how I like it.. for the most part.

Anyway, a few reflections:
1. Making friends is hard. How do you people meet other people?!  I spend 8 hours a day in my office. When I get home, I might have to work out and then make dinner. And then it's 8PM. What if I have to do laundry or some other menial life task? How do people have time to meet people? And like.. you gotta leave your house to meet people! And then even when you have time AND leave your house, you need to get the nerve to talk to strangers?! I know a couple people who have this insane gift of being able to make friends with anyone. My mother is one of these people. We could be in line to check out at the grocery store, and by the time I come back with the milk we forgot, she's best friends with the cashier and talking to them about where their kid is going to college. For a long time I thought you just had to have an open heart, but I'm starting to think you have to just not be afraid of rejection-- and just start talking. I'm working up to it, but I'm scared.

2. Keeping friends takes work. After a lot of thought about making new friends, I realized that I sure don't spend enough time keeping in touch with the ones I already have. So what if they don't live nearby? It's definitely been an investment of my time and attention, but it's made my life richer, and I think it's made me happier. I think this type of relationship building vibes with my independence though because as much as I feel like these are real relationships, I'm still not actually spending time with these people (don't worry though-- I totally would if I could). People are probably getting annoyed with pictures of my cat and updates about my dating life though. Sorry 'bout it (hah, not really).

3. I think I like being a solitary creature. I like not having to answer to anyone else, or having to plan my life around others. I think I struggled with figuring out whether I'm introverted or extroverted for so long because I didn't know if I got re-energized from being alone or with people-- because I am alone so often. It's probably the reason I live with another solitary creature. Today I went on a lovely run, then stopped by my favorite bookstore and perused at my leisure, and then strolled over to the farmer's market to grab a bite. I didn't have to work with anyone else's timeline, be concerned with what anyone else felt like eating, or worry about if I was taking too long at the book store. I hate making people wait, or really inconveniencing them in any way. Maybe it's better this way. Maybe it's not. Maybe it is for right now.

4. But I wouldn't say no to companionship. Last night instead of going out to dinner with a new friend, I spent my evening reading The Little Prince and drinking a big mug of tea while wrapped in a blanket burrito. It's something I do everyone once in a while and it always resets my perspective on friendship and what it means to build those special fox/rose relationships. And of course, being anywhere within a five block radius of Lake Merritt or the farmer's market, there are people walking around the sparkly lake in the sunshine with their partners and dogs and organic vegetables, further romanticizing this idea (yes, you read that right-- I romanticize fresh produce). It seems like it would be so, so wonderful to have that kind of relationship(s?). I'm intentionally not making a disctinction between whether I mean this in a romantic or platonic way, because I'm not sure if I know. That level of companionship doesn't exist for me in any form and sometimes that makes me really sad. 
"But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others." - excerpt from The Little Prince 

There's still some more thinking to do around this, but then again, I suspect that this will be something that never ends.


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