In the first draft of this post, I kept the context ambiguous, because who wants to read whining? But then I decided it was lame to just keep alluding to something undisclosed, like posting an evasive outcry of a Facebook status that tells people absolutely nothing.
The purpose of this blog post is not to vent, I swear. But it is something I have been thinking about a lot. And a thing happened that helped a bit.
The last few days, I’ve been feeling the heavy weight of forever-aloneness. A senior on a small private Christian university campus, I can’t help but feel an unwelcome stab of bitterness whenever I see people with linked hands, finding new relationships, taking steps further in others. Romantic relationships are a commonality of the human experience.
One that I have yet to find for myself. And that sort of annoys me.
I’ve rationalized it so many times over. I like being single, which is true. Right now, I’m a little too intense with personal projects and concentrating on the next step to look for a significant other. So if all that doesn’t find me, it’s ok. Maybe later.
But still I see a couple walking by, fingers interlaced, looking like the most fulfilled individuals on earth and I feel the stab. A prick which, if not for the sheer number of times I endure it, wouldn’t be that bad. But it’s like someone’s always looming behind me, tapping me on the back of the head every time I encounter something that pertains to other people’s romantic relationships.
There’s no way I’ll go rogue and try to sabotage everyone because I occasionally feel bitter. I’d rather deal with my own insecurities than want people to stop what they’re doing, especially if it’s good for them.
But I still haven’t been able to rationalize away the stabs—the carefully-stored-introvert-energy-draining thorns in my sides I have to try to brush off so many times just walking to and from class every day. Right now, much more than a significant other, I just want to be able to find peace with this. To locate that part of myself that is still whining and scraping for something I can’t yet have and smother it.
I wonder if part of this pain is because romantic relationships are so beautifully common. And I feel indignant at the phenomenon, because it’s just one more place where I don’t quite fit.
But this blog post isn’t really about this—or it wasn’t meant to be anyway. I needed to cover some context, so as to refrain from endless sideways hinting at vague inner restlessness and instead be honest about what it is that led me to march out of my house in the dark Saturday night and over to the track where I did something I haven’t done of my own volition in months. Physical exercise. (Gasp.)
Most of my ardent hobbies are sedentary, so I remain likewise for the majority of my free time. However, I do like being active. I just don’t like feeling watched, judged, appraised. Also, I don’t like dealing with being sweaty or heating up a room, so this already undisciplined area is further discouraged.
But in the dark, the world is quieter. Less stimuli, less stress. And I feel like I’m traveling faster than I actually am—which is a plus. Usually I like to feel like I’m going somewhere, but on a dark, mildly deserted track, I feel unconstrained, so it doesn’t matter. No one can see me very well. Nobody’s staring at me. There’s nothing to prove. No social pressure. Just me and God and my moving body. (And frustration at how out of shape I’ve become, but that’s beside the point.)
At night, the track is just dark enough that I can give in to my feelings of invisibility. During the day, I feel exposed. I keep my head down, my gaze on my phone. I greet people I know, but other than that, I get to class in as expedited a manner as possible. I don’t linger, because that might look weird. During the day I can feel so invisible it hurts.
But in the dark, I can admit to it. I can stop pretending, stop telling myself I’m fully visible. Because in the dark, I’m not, and I can embrace it. I can let it permeate me and stop worrying what people will think or not think when they see me.
So running in the dark was lovely, endorphin-generating aloneness—like doubly effective introvert recharge.
I didn’t push myself hard Saturday night. (I didn’t want to hurt myself.) But I sprinted when I felt like it, beating out my frustrations by simply running until my muscles fatigued and my lungs struggled in my aching chest.
After finishing one such sprint, I followed a whim out onto the center of the empty football field, positioned right in the center of the track. I just stood there for a while, where the lights were brightest, watching my breath billow translucent clouds into the night air.
I thought about the implications of what I had just done. Most of the time I just want to be invisible, to exist in the shadows where nobody has to acknowledge me if it’s inconvenient for them. But on this occasion, I had walked straight into the light, very much deliberately.
If anyone passed by, they would see a lone individual standing in the football field. And I didn’t care. Let them look, let them wonder, let them recognize me if they could.
Earlier that afternoon, crowds of students cheered from occupied bleachers, watching the game taking place on the same turf. But now the whole complex was empty, save for one individual. One who had not been there earlier, because she would have felt desperately alone amongst so many people.
I stood pensively in the light, the stars faint above me and the silence filling the tangled void. The dark clouds dissipated for the time being as the restlessness burned away and the endorphins spread through my system.
And I reminded myself it was ok.
It was ok to be seen.
It was ok to be solitary.