Friday, August 20, 2010

How to be alone, Part 3?

I always find it fascinating when people say, “I’d rather [have that or do this] than be alone,” because, like my co-contributors, I relish in alone-ness like it is a sacred gift from the world itself. Think about it, every day we shuffle ourselves off into the daily grind. There are people at the bus stop, on the T, at work (if you are employed), at stores, at the park, on the street, in our apartments (some might call them roommates, I call them intruders in my life. Kidding!), etc, etc, etc. There comes a point when you need a break from it all. When you need to sit in your bedroom, hair uncombed, with a bag of peanut butter m&ms, a diet coke, and 2 seasons of Pushing Daisies to watch on your antiquated laptop which barely has the technology to post in this blog.

This is not to say I don’t like people. Well, maybe it is, I’ll be honest, I don’t always like people. But even as a child I constantly plotted ways to escape my extremely nice, non-overbearing, relatively amazing family (in the grand scheme of crazy families, anyway). Whether it was through reading a good book (or, rather, any book, consider my obsession with the Trixie Beldon series. Nancy Drew was too cool for me. Krissy knows what I am talking about) or hiding out in my bedroom or climbing a tree, I found my ways to be by myself.

Now that I’ve grown (up), sometimes it seems I am alone in my desire to be alone. (See how I did that?) I’m just so good at disappearing by this point, I don’t even notice my tendency to going into Lone-Wolf mode anymore. I’ve planned vacations and then clued my family in last minute, as an after thought, because I am sure they’d want to know that I will be in a developing country for 2 weeks. I leave the apartment in the morning, return at midnight, with little to no explanation, instigating concerned text messages on a phone that never has the ringer on. If I am bored with a situation, I leave the room, leave the party. My picture is probably next to the definition of the Irish Good-Bye.

The truth is, it doesn’t occur to me that people would ever want to be clued in on the goings on of my little old life. This goes beyond me not wanting people to cramp my style, I’ve just never had anyone in my life that required me to check in. Even as a teenager, I told my parents where I was going and what time I was going to be back and as long as I stuck with that plan I didn’t need to keep them posted along the way. As depressing as this will sound, I consider myself a disposable friend, here when you want me, gone when you don't need me around. Out of sight, out of mind. I blow in and out of people's lives like tumbleweed. Am I done with these metaphors? Yes, yes I think I am.

As I watch friends jump into relationships, connecting their lives with others in a way that goes beyond a Facebook link, I wonder if I will ever be able to pull that off. When people tell me they hate long distance relationships, I am always afraid to admit I secretly dream for that opportunity. Scheduled phone calls, long weekend visits, emails about hopes, dreams, and muppets... that’s the stuff I can do. But if someone wants to see me every day, talk to me every day, it makes me nervous and I start to make excuses why it just won't work if that kind of togetherness is what the other person wants. It's not me to need that.

It’s taken me a long time to get to this place, but I like being on my own. I function well alone. I am comfortable with it. I like to move easily about the cabin that is life, and when you are attached at the hip to someone else, it can be difficult to maneuver. I just haven’t learned the steps to that dance yet, and maybe it’s because I was never ready for it.

But, behind every loner, there is a closet romantic. I want the white picket fence and all that comes with it. I do want that one special person with which to grow old. [And if he is the right person, he will understand my need for personal space in the form of an office/studio space in a converted carriage house out back.] And a few kids, if the fates allow. Definitely a dog. The thing is, all of these hopes and dreams come with a dose of reality. My life isn't that white frosted fantasy I may have once naively imagined. But being alone for so long has made me see what it is I want and what it is I will need to be happy. And this sense of self is all really one can hope for.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How to be alone, part 2

Having been alone my whole life, it's an adjustment NOT being alone. Worse and more difficult than to explain this to friends or random people, is explaining this to someone you're dating. Like Krissy, I have had friends, I have had family.

But before I had friends, I was alone. I didn't have close friends until I was 15 or so. It was a strange concept, which is perhaps why I was so easily convinced once that no one wanted to be my friend-even though they did.

I had a large family, so I was never completely alone. I had 3 brothers, but they had different interests. As much as I pretended to like these interests, or they pretended I wasn't an inconvenience attempting to play sports, I was set apart. In basketball, we came to an agreement that I would stand in one place, which was a "sweet spot" for me, and when given the ball, I would shoot. I think when I sunk a shot, I sang "I'm Still Standing" by Elton John. No wonder I was alone. Even so, my siblings had friends at a much earlier age. At first I probably hated the lonely feeling. Then lonely didn't feel so lonely.

The times when I did want to be alone, I never really was. I brought up the notion of going to the bathroom while another person was showering in the same bathroom. It freaked my boyfriend out. We did it all the time growing up. 7 people and 2 bathrooms. Do. The. Math. Before the age of 24 I only had my own room for 1 year. And then for two years I was an independent, fully employed young man...who lived with his parents. Now that I can be alone...sometimes I just want to.

It's hard now to explain to someone that you choose to be with and who chooses to be with me, that sometimes, I just need to be completely alone. It's probably more often than is "acceptable" and I will keep the quotes because having spent so much time not worrying about societal norms I don't think there is an "acceptable" amount. Perhaps it sounds selfish to the other person when you explain that it is not about them. It has absolutely nothing to with anyone but me. Maybe it takes loners more time to be "good" at a relationship. Again, I keep the quotes because I think the best relationships are formed when two people maintain their strong characteristics. It doesn't mean I love any less.

Being alone you learn a lot about yourself. I'm always told I seem very sure of who I am. Well, I hope so, because I have had more time to work on myself than the average person. And...I like me. Me and myself have had some good times together. The older I get the harder it is to stay in touch with some friends. With jobs, meetings, relationships, family, friends, weddings, parties, hobbies, exercise- there is precious little time for oneself. I have to make more of an effort to find quality time with important people in my life. To catch up with an old friend. Sometimes I need time to catch up with the oldest friend I have.

Follow the advice from the video in part 1. The more you learn about yourself, the better you will be for yourself and others :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

how to be alone, pt 1

So I'm pretty sure if there's one thing we kids at justforscuz can agree on, it's that we love to be alone. We're used to it. We're good at it. Sometimes (gasp!), we even prefer it. I've recently started seeing someone (shocking, I know) and have found myself struggling to explain my fondness for aloneness. I think it's often confused for loneliness, and herein lies the problem. Being alone is a choice, and it's a mighty valid one. Being alone doesn't mean I don't have love, friends, or family. It just means that when I find myself alone with...myself, I am content with the company of my own thoughts.

See? It's not as easy to explain to you as it was to myself. One point for being alone! Anyways, here is someone much more eloquent to explain how I feel...