It’s Friday. Everyone’s posting on Facebook where they’re going to be tonight and whether they’re going to be there. Everyone’s pumped. Emojis are out in full force. They are as excited as I would be if Michael Fassbender, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Benedict Cumberbatch or Tom Hiddleston all said they wanted to take me out for a nice lunch and a walk around the Harbour. However, this is not the case, because the thought of going out on Friday night scares me as much as a victim in an episode of Criminal Minds and appeals to me as much as as cricket does (hint: there’s no appeal in it).
I recently spent a week in Melbourne with some good friends of mine and I’m pleased to say that I survived. No friendships were broken and I didn’t need to plan the perfect murder. I’ve heard horror stories about travelling, mainly about personality clashes and disgruntled room mates. Luckily, the trip was short enough not to have been graced with that, but it did highlight something which I’ve always known, but hadn’t quite confirmed:
like love my alone time.
Growing up at an all girls school which was emphatic that relationships was key to growing up, going to university was a suddenly like the first day of kindergarten all over again – as if Mum was still standing behind me, asking me to go and play with friends.
Admittedly, the beginning of university was also a stepping stone for me. Suddenly, every second person was talking about sex, there were boys and there was much more to life than one’s academic success. Very abruptly, life became about fitting in, and whether that was through going to parties, having people to hang out with at Ubar or being on the mooting team like everyone else, university was all about being somewhere with someone.
My mother always says that change is a part of life, and that twenty-five years after marrying Dad, both of them are completely different people, and yet they still love and cherish each other (cue: ‘But you’re not allowed to tell him that I’m saying nice things about him!’). It’s safe to say that four years after starting university, I’ve become very comfortable with who I am. I had always believed myself to be an extrovert, a social butterfly with the burning to desire to be somewhere all the time but I’ve since come to recognise that that isn’t the case. I’ve come to see myself as an extroverted introvert; extroverted in my professional and academic endeavours, but personally introverted. In a lot of cases, I’ve found myself being comfortable as a wallflower.
I cherish my friends, and I adore spending time with them, but there is a limit. I need ‘me time’. I need a room to myself, a laptop or a good book or a good film/tv show, and a nice glass of wine. I don’t need people. I don’t need to have someone talking to me. I don’t need someone to ask me ‘how’s things’ or ‘what are you doing’ every five minutes. I need time to myself, to take off my mask of the quirky chatterbox and just chill as the weirdo blob that I am. That’s why when some people see lonesome dining as a very depressing thought, I see it as sanctuary.
I’ve struggled with clinginess in relationships in the past. I’ve often gotten phone calls or texts from the significant other telling me that they feel like I don’t care about them or don’t appreciate them because I don’t text or call them every second minute. I don’t need them to be around the whole time. I need space. I need air to breathe. Cuddles are great, but being able to be in a room with them, know that they’re there from the warmth and security they give, but still have the privacy I desire, that’s when I know I’m comfortable.
With a boyfriend over in Germany, I often get asked ‘don’t you feel lonely?’ or receive the comment ‘long distance never works out’, the fact is that it suits us just fine. Alex and I are an ‘us’ as much as we are ‘him’ or ‘her’. Unlike my previous relationships, Alex tells me that he enjoys space just as much he enjoys our time together, and that to me is what is healthy. He misses me just as much as I miss him. It’s a first, because we share the desire for space and togetherness. Though we can share a bottle of wine between ourselves, both he and I are happy to have one to ourselves.
It’s important for my identity to have that alone time. I am not a clingy person. I’m not a social butterfly. I’m not a person who needs to be surrounded by friends. I’m not a person whose emotions are known to everyone (despite the bipolar ‘n’ all!). I’m a person who enjoys the prospect of a cabin in the middle of wheat fields with a strong internet connection and a hot mug of tea with an empty 30km radius around me. Though I, like almost everyone, have qualms with who – or what – I am, I am also the person most accepting of who I am: an independent, solitary soul who enjoys alone time.