Ever so often I decide to workshop a piece I’m thinking of publishing on Thought Catalog here on my blog first to hear feedback and allow the article to evolve into a better narrative. This is one of those times. Honesty and sentiments are gladly appreciated in the comments!
I didn’t breathe for what felt like a full minute after it happened. Physically, mentally and emotionally I felt like someone had just knocked the wind out of me. I wanted to vomit but instead I remember thinking “just focus on your driving.” We’d been on the phone for almost two hours, but he didn’t let the information about his feelings for his ex slip until the last few minutes. He said it casually, as if we’d been best friends forever, when really our friendship was still leaning to walk. I wondered if maybe he had forgotten who he was talking to for a second but then I realized I didn’t have time to contemplate this because I had to say something – anything.
“Wow, that’s intense. But good, that’s good.” I said hearing the faint crack in my voice. How the fuck was this happening? I replayed the entire summer again in my head incase maybe I missed something. Perfect first date. Whirlwind summer romance. Instant bond. Nope, no where had there been any sign he was may be still in love with ex. This was every girls nightmare. I felt humiliated for myself. Here I was pining over a guy who for weeks couldn’t express his feelings to me at all and now, on the lowest and loneliest weeks of my life he was telling me he did have feelings for someone… the girl he broke up with 7 months ago.
I couldn’t compete with that. I couldn’t compete with a girl he self proclaimed to have been “head over heels for” in the first month of dating. Worst of all, a part of me understood exactly how he felt. Over the few months I had been single every once in a while I would miss my ex so much it didn’t seem possible, or real that I had ended it. All those happy memories, they don’t just disappear. You start thinking,” maybe if I had just held out a little longer, put in a little more effort, I could have made this work.” I could see how he could be having second thoughts about not being with her, but despite my understanding I felt completely broken all the same.
To be honest I don’t remember the rest of the conversation between him saying he still wanted to be with her and me getting off the phone. I’m pretty sure it was all very cordial and nice but as soon as I hung up I started balling my eyes out while I contemplated my options. I started sobbing even harder when I realized that they were to either a) cut all ties and never talk to him again or b) let it go and pretend it didn’t bother me. Both sounded like fucking horrible choices. I really wanted to be happy for him. To genuinely let my own feelings slip away and support him the way friends are suppose to but I also wanted to never hear him say her name to me ever again.
So here I am, trying to straddle the fine line between the lesser of two evils while processing in a very real way the fact that the guy I’m crazy for is crazy for someone else. I’m still at the part where I push my feelings deep down and let them just sit there, not quite sure what this all means or if it means anything at all. This of course will eventually lead to full on avoidance and a deep desire to focus all of this sadness, and crazy emotion into anything else more productive. Until then I’m just learning to accept how strange relationships are and the many forms that they take to teach us things about life.
I started this blog as an homage to the fact that your twenties suck. That being said, it is a time in your life where a lot goes on, you’re exploring yourself mentally, emotionally and physically as well as within your career, your relationships, and in the world as a whole. My goal for this blog (as well as my writing on Thought Catalog) is to share my experiences in my twenties fully and honestly so that other people can relate and find comfort that they are not alone. In the wake of Robin Williams tragic death last week and because of my own battles with suicide and depression I am recommitting to that mission and focusing on sharing my life “out loud” to more and more followers and readers everyday. Okay, I’m digressing.
There are many things that adults and older peers really encourage in your twenties and I am currently living about 3. I’m working in a totally new field (non profit, which isn’t a complete 180 from my world in politics but is definitely a new avenue), I’m living on my own in a new city, and I am single and dating. All of these things are looked at as rites of passage for any twenty something and I have to tell you – it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
In general I would say that this new chapter of my life is 60/40. 60% excitement and over all contentment and 40% WTF AM I DOING!? Let’s start with the new job. I am falling in love more and more everyday with my new co-workers, school site, and organization overall. I definitely feel like I’ve finally found the right fit for me career wise. However, working with educators and school administrations is challenging and a little different than how I imagined. Its required a lot more patience than I am use to and definitely a gentler touch. Luckily I really do feel supported in my role and feel like being only 3 weeks in that by this time next month my job will feel second nature to me.
This weekend was also big because I moved into my new apartment! Now I’ve been living on my own for quite sometime but this is my first real apartment that wasn’t just me moving into an already established house hold. It’s a little stressful. I’m sore all over from moving stuff in and right now my room looks like a bomb hit it. Not to mention that a lot of work goes into making a house a home so I’ll be spending the next month or so slowly getting the place in order. Not my favorite but it’ll be okay. It definitely a little lonely being out here without my friends or any real support system outside of work. I’m hoping to make some more friends as I finally unpack and get use to the neighborhood but it ain’t easy.
Finally I’m sinking more and more into my single life. I’ve been on a few dates this week (thank you Tinder) but dating is hard. The “hook-up” culture has got a strong hold on our generation and that makes everything a little murky when it comes to dating. Not to mention a small piece of me is still hung up on the guy from CA. I keep comparing how I felt about him during our first few dates to the guys here and it’s tough. With every bad date I feel myself closing down emotionally and guarding myself because I’ve stopped trusting in the process. I think every single girl has this period somewhere after a break-up where you just start feeling jaded and disillusioned with dating. I’m hoping it’s a passing phase but either way I do feel more romantically lonely than I had at any other point in this summer.
So that’s the gist of it. Lots of self-discovery moments as mandated by the invisible “Things Twenty Somethings Must Do Police” . I know everything going on in my life right now is character building and important but it’s also hard and frustrating and not always fun. Somedays I feel proud of myself for doing all of these things and sometimes it just really sucks. God, I hate my twenties 😉
We’ve been friends for five years. When we first met I still had my freshmen 15 and you couldn’t even legally order an alcoholic beverage. We had mutual friends – which was about the only thing we had in common except for our shared birthdays, exactly two years apart. I guess it started the way they all do, with flirty text messages and naughty pictures but after a few months I was all in and you were… not. Simple.
After that it exploded pretty quickly. I said things, you said things, then you ignored me for weeks on end even though we lived in the same dorm and it was almost impossible not to run into each other. The first time I was heartbroken and every time after that I have been many things – furious, annoyed, exasperated, but never quite like that first time. We made up, of course, because that’s the cycle of us. We retreat just far enough to miss each other and then we crawl back, drawn to each other like magnets without really understanding why.
You graduated, then I graduated and even though we lived in different states and eventually different time zones we never lost touch. I don’t even know when I started referring to you as my best friend, but I did. Always with the flirty texts, the naughty pics, but underneath it so much more. You listened to me complain after dating asshole after asshole, I answered your drunken texts when no one else would. If either of us had anything important going on the other would know about it. We encouraged each other, pushed each other, challenged each other and without knowing it a bond formed. When you got into grad school I was almost as excited as you were and when I went off on the campaign trail you couldn’t have been prouder.
And yet, every few months I would realize it was all just a game. You would say something dumb or I would become too needy and the cycle would start all over. We’d disappear into radio silence for what felt like ever and then one of us would break and send the other one a text and it was back to beginning again. My boyfriends were always jealous, thinking that you and I were secretly in love with each other but I would always say the same thing, “If we were meant to be together it would have happened by now.” Which, I hadn’t realized until recently was not even close to the right answer for many, many reasons.
Yet here we are. Whenever the days turn into weeks of us not talking we miss each other in a way that shouldn’t seem possible given that we’ve never had one another to begin with. Sometimes you meet people that just for no reason you can’t see yourself living without. I guess that’s just the cycle of us.
I’m alone a lot. I’m in a new city with a new job and I know no one – so suffice to say I spend a decent amount of time lately mono a mono. I don’t notice it really, I grew up mostly an only child (I have a half-brother who I would see in the summers and during the holidays I spent with my dad) and was always very independent. I could lose myself in books, and when I was truly bored would create stories in my journal with characters that had such rich dialog it surprised most people that I had made it all up. I never viewed being alone as a punishment, nor an oddity at any point in my life.
That is until I reached adulthood. Once I went away to college everyone was always around and doing things on my own was looked at as disassociated and lonerish. I couldn’t take myself out to lunch, or shop, or even see a movie without a gaggle of floormmates or friends surrounding me. “We just don’t want you to be lonely.” They would say as the invited themselves with me to the gym. I was never afraid of being lonely because I never associated being alone with loneliness. Loneliness was an emotional emptiness. A void that couldn’t be filled with people but yet having people always around made me feel lonely, like my own personal well being was lost in the voices of everyone around me.
Women especially start to forget the difference (though this isn’t necessarily a gender problem, in generally women tend to feel less comfortable by themselves than men for obvious reasons). We go everywhere with our friends, even to the bathroom (I mean seriously we can’t even be alone to go to the bathroom?!). We start off with hordes of college friends who seem permanently attached to our sides, to a smaller group of friends who then become roommates later in life. Then we go from our houses with our roommates to our offices with our co-workers (where we all go out to lunch together, of course) then from our offices to the gym or happy hour where we inevitable meet more friends before going home to our significant others. We get married, then we have kids and then, we regret not spending more time alone because we are literally surrounded by people ALL DAY EVERYDAY FOREVER.
It can be scary thinking of doing things by yourself. But you just have to get over the awkward stigma that being alone means you’re lonely and go for it. I spent all day Sunday exploring my new city, popping in and out of restaurants and stores, enjoying the company of my own thoughts. When I stopped for lunch (a little after the brunch rush, around 2) I found myself firmly saying, “just me” to the hostess with a smile. I had a beer, whipped out my journal, and sat there all afternoon observing the families and couples as they walked past. Taking the time to think solely about your own wants and needs without having to curtail them to someone else is a powerful thing. There are certain things you have to be comfortable doing alone before you can explore them with other people.
Do I get lonely? YES! But I alway ask myself, do I feel lonely because I need human connection or am I lonely because of some other emotional hole that I’m not filling? Am I lonely because I crave intimacy? Am I lonely because I miss someone specific? Am I lonely because I need attention? Being alone and being lonely are not the same thing. Having more people in my life to surround me and go with me places won’t make the latter go away. The main difference between being alone and being lonely is that one is the pathway to self-discovery – and that is what you’re twenties is all about.