A Realization

A few weeks ago, Matt dropped by my apartment and after chatting for a bit, our conversation turned to discussing various personality traits. He asked me whether I was more energized by spending time alone or spending time with others. Honestly, I can't remember what I answered that night. But last night, the answer to this question slapped me in the face.

In high school, I was fairly extroverted; I had a lot of friends, and I loved being with them. However, I also loved being alone. There's a creek about a quarter of a mile away from my house in Kansas, and I used to go there several times a week all by myself, just to think, or to sing, or to dance, or to sit and let the water play between the cracks in my toes. I was energized in those moments.

My freshman year of college, I was unfortunately deprived of any nearby creek, but I still found times and places to be alone, and despite the fun I had with my roommates, I cherished those quiet times of solitude: in bed looking out the window at the night sky, or running in the early morning before others had emerged from their houses.

Now it's my Sophomore year of college. Which, by the way is weird. But my thoughts on aging should probably be saved for another post. Anyway, this year has been significantly different than any other year of my life. I've been lucky enough to have had friends throughout the years, but this year, I've made more friends in less time than ever before. Naturally, when you become friends with a person, you want to hang out with them, and they (presumably) want to hang out with you. So over the past two semesters, I have honestly had very few nights when I was not doing something with someone else. Whether it be dinner, or watching a movie, or chatting, or playing the piano, or going out for hot chocolate, or going for a walk, or studying in the Writing Center until the library closed...I have spent nearly every evening engaging in some sort of activity with someone--almost never by myself.

Perhaps it's understandable, then, why last night felt so...odd. I returned home after class/work around 6:45 PM. Three of my roommates were home watching TV. I checked my phone: no text messages. No missed calls. I shrugged it off and started heating up some frozen vegetables to eat with my crusty bread and string cheese. When the microwave dinged, I gathered my food in my arms and plopped onto the couch to enjoy American Idol.I had my computer on my lap as well, although I don't really know why. I couldn't do homework and watch TV at the same time (I've tried this before and have failed miserably), and I had deactivated my facebook account the night before, so it's not like I was going to chat with anyone online. So I set my computer aside.

After American Idol finished, I checked my phone again. Still nothing. For some reason, I didn't feel comfortable with that. I began to fidget a little. My roommates started to watch some movie on TBS and with nothing better to do, I just continued to sit on the couch and watch with them.After fifteen minutes or so, I started to feel tired, so I reached for a quilt sitting by the couch, laid it over me, and slept for about an hour. I woke up at 9:30 PM, and realizing I had been asleep, I reached for my phone again and flipped it open. Nada.
This was weird.

Eventually, my roommates went to sleep, but I stayed up. I alternated between studying for my Nutrition test and playing Colbie Caillet songs on the guitar for a couple of hours. But I couldn't get rid of this sinking, self-pitiful feeling I had. I felt sluggish. I felt unfulfilled. Still, I wasn't ready for bed, so I looked on Old Navy's website and then read for a bit before finally deciding to hit the sack around 3:30 AM.

Then, just before I closed my eyes, it hit me: I had had no energy tonight. For once, I had an opportunity to spend time with myself, alone, to catch up on homework, or to think, or to revel in solitude. Instead, I was disgusted by the solitude. I had longed for the companionship I've become so accustomed to. I had been alone, finally, for once, but I had not liked it. And this realization did not make me happy.


Chan said...

So did you realize that you like being around people more, and that's okay? Or that you have become unaccustomed to solitude, and you want to regain your enjoyment of solitude?

Anyhow, I like how clear this is. I think I'm appreciating more this semester than ones before how nice it is to read something that's clearly written.

And I totally know that feeling when you crave some sort of interaction, so you check your facebook and you keep checking your phone and you check your blog post to see if anyone has responded, etc.

Kaitlin said...

Hmmm...yes, I realized that I like being around people more, but I wasn't okay with it. I want to go back to being able to really enjoy being alone. I think it's important that we enjoy times when we are with people and also when we are all by ourselves, and the fact that I didn't enjoy being by myself bothered me.

Sky said...

I agree with Chan--a clear post. Good writing with no filler or stumble-bum adjectives or adverbs. It just moves.

I don't know how you all do it. I think of your crowded apartments and get immediate claustrophobia. But, maybe I need all this solitude that I treasure and guard because there's still so much of my life--after 62 years--that I want to take out and examine, turn over in my hands, look at it from all sides, and watch the blueish-red light shimmering around its edges. I have so many roomfuls of places and people I haven't even re-wound yet to examine the intricacies and patterns--the endless grace and light and love of it all. Life does become a sort of movie script you walk through. It's just that you seldom get to know your cues or lines ahead of time--or even what scene you'll be in. But this has made it exciting. I'm always slightly breathless as it moves forward. Yep. With or without me--it keeps moving.

Chan said...

Were you watching bluish-red light shimmering around the edges of memories between 7:30 and 9:30 this evening, when we were at Applebee's without you?

Kaitlin said...

And why bluish-red, Sis. Morgan?

Sky said...

Well, no, Chan-smart-mouth. About the time you pulled into Applebees, I woke up from long nap and found an old Western on TV. Rexburg looked too far away, but I'm sorry to have missed delightful (I'm sure) conversation and good (I think) food.

Kaitlin, hmmm...that's a good question. I thought about that one, revisited it before I wrote it, but in my mind the memories stayed that color. That's how they looked: a dark rich blue with a smoldering red underneath. It's one of those mind-image things I don't understand.
When you look back, what color would you call your memories in totality? I think they would be a light color, since you're on the short side of life, and I'm (pause for great sigh of thankfulness) on the other end--exiting.

iBo said...

Memories for me have kind of a shade of gray to it. I think it may be the influence of growing up in the northwest where it's gray most of the year. Haha.

The painful for thing for me right now is trying to go back and sit in some memories and finding myself unable to not because of the pain, but because I simply can't remember the details.

Kaitlin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kaitlin said...

My memories are tinted yellow. Similar to Ivor, I think this is partially due to where I grew up. On summer evenings in Kansas as the sun is setting, there is a soft yellow glow that just settles over everything. This is the kind of light in which I see my memories.

Britt said...

I have a sincere question about this. Not the colored memories thing but the solitude thing. So, after the other night you concluded that you rejuvenate yourself by being around good company, right? Well, couldn't it just be that you were expecting to be with others and you weren't. The solitude was not planned for. Couldn't that be it? Maybe it isn't solitude that saps you but disappointment, or unplanned solitude? Because before, when you went to the river you always knew you would be alone there; you knew what was coming but this is a little different. Don't you think?

Julie said...

Hmmm...Britt, this is a very good point. It's true, I still need time by myself occasionally. And I do spend time alone (like after curfew). But still, lately (more than usual anyway) I would prefer being with people. Because this isn't the first time it's happened this semester (although it's one of very few); it's just the first time that realization hit me. I asked myself, "why am I bored? Why am I sad? Why am I unexcited?" And it was because I was alone at a time when I didn't want to be.

Kaitlin said...

Okay, I just realized my comment (see immediately above) is under Julie's name. I have no idea how this happened. Julie, I don't know you, but I apologize for the mix-up. Computers are quirky.