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on being alone

I used to be really bad at being alone. In fact, I feared it. In high school, I would leave my house around 6:30 AM and stay out as late as possible to avoid solitude upon returning home.

I believe I was afraid of my own thoughts. Spiraling was inevitable if given enough time with me, and only me. I was in a relationship that I put on a pedestal, but deep down I knew something was off. Enough time spent killing time with friends convinced me otherwise.

For these reasons, I convinced myself that I was an extrovert. An addiction to being with others must mean I recharge with them. I’m realizing I just didn’t like spending time with myself, so I preferred anyone else. I was so high-speed and perfectionistic and concerned with opinions. I suffocated myself.

I’m not sure what changed. Perhaps covid, when being alone was the new black. Or I got out of that relationship that kept me lying to myself. Maybe I just turned 21, or I tore my ACL.

It's likely a trauma cocktail of them all. That’s how change works; events are stepping stones, not a catapult into a new persona.

I write today on a train to Aix-en-Provence, South of France—alone. I would have it no other way. Lately, I crave spending time with myself. I’ve become obsessed with my thoughts and writing them on a page—how narcissistic of me.

My mom was quite worried that I’d make no friends while in Europe. I knew I’d make at least a few, but how beautiful, all the same, if I hadn’t?

If anything, I find groups and my Providence routine suffocating. How the tables have turned. And how beautiful to enjoy both friends and the one you’re stuck with forever. The beauty of options!

People get quite worked up when they hear that you’re alone. “Oh, she’s alone? Someone must go keep her company.” Why does being alone get tangled up with sadness? I do believe loneliness and being alone are different. There is an element of permanence with the former, whereas the latter is temporary. Today, I am alone, but in life, I feel supported. My lonesomeness is a choice. I agree that those with loneliness could use some support—it is likely not a choice.

Introvert and extrovert, I’ve landed on. Must it be a question of “or”—why not “and”? We are obsessed with labeling life with binaries. Compulsive organizers. What if 60% of my energy is derived from music? Have they made a label for that yet? What if a friend gives me juice one day, and writing does the next? Perhaps it’s as simple as an espresso martini to wake me up. Espresso-vert. Music-vert. Introextrovert.

I’m not sure any of this matters.

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