MAYBE I DON'T LIKE BEING ALONE
I have always identified as an introvert, not a loner, just someone who prefers their own company over others. In school I’d join nearly every group or club but after all those meetings and practices and homework and phone calls with friends and boyfriends, after my family went to sleep, I’d lie awake for hours in my room, zoning out in front of my laptop. So when it came to quarantine, I thought I’d be thriving, I could finally return to a semblance of the state I once loved.
During my adolescence, those late night hours were when I felt most myself, relieved of a duty to socialise and to achieve or even act remotely civil towards people who frankly I never wanted to see again. Just me and a box of Crunchy Nut Clusters I’d eat dry, melting my mind staring at whatever deep dive video I was on. Like that guy in The Twilight Zone who never got enough times to read, a life of solitude and snacks has always been my brass ring - which shouldn’t come as a shock. After all, there are only two routes an only child can go down: a life of enjoying their own company, or a life where they have to be with people 24/7.
If you meet me, I am warm and friendly. That’s not fake. There’s just a lot more going on behind the scenes - a desire to hide, isolate and operate as a fully self-sufficient organism so I can’t be hurt, shamed or disappointed. Lockdown has always been a bit of a goal, a dream come true minus the viral pandemic part. I didn’t want a worldwide shutdown but after many months of being surrounded by people nonstop, retreating back to where I grew up in the middle of nowhere became a safe haven. Maintaining distance, socially, has always been my thing. Where you can go in to too much detail over one part of your life yet never reveal the rest.
Or so I thought.
I’ve been given the chance to process all of this basically alone, even in my own household where my mother is too busy fixing up the house to take notice. With time enough at last to spend watching much more than small YouTube clips in the student library as a form of a break, a mostly healthy adult’s snack options, and no real reason to keep in touch with others as university has been closed for over 4 months and I can’t even visit people, I have repeatedly made the decision to continue to be part of instead of apart from.
I’ve kept in touch with others and even desired a closer connection with the first few weeks I was downloading Tinder for the first time, two or three weeks later I was bored already. I have taken part in many of my friends’ efforts of a online pub quiz, winning a handful, as well as the common Netflix party which happens twice a week in my room watching cringy movies or the Real Housewives. Having crushed through almost the entirety of the Real Housewives of New York, while starting the Beverly Hills edition too has been a shameful yet rewarding experience.
As it turns out, I don’t want to be the last person on earth, surrounded by books (cereal) with time finally enough to read (Real Housewives), and not only because I do love trash TV. Seen one way, my life has been those hours I’ve needed alone since September. Seen another, I have consistently tried to put myself in the middle of the pack, attempting to connect even if it isn’t easy for me. I may be an introvert - thought quarantine has felt exhausting, so maybe I get more energy from others than I think.
I am not a loner. I’m a yearner, a reacher, if that doesn’t sound sexual. Whatever fear I may have about needing and wanting others, I have spent a lifetime pushing through it.