Nothing unites a community like death, but it’s pretty disgusting that that’s what it takes.
“Home is wherever I’m with you” -Edward Sharpe
I haven’t felt at home since I left for college 13 months ago.
I feel like pieces of myself were left in my hometown, in the memories there, and in the people that now live hundreds of miles away.
Being away from the place and people I grew up with is something I thought I’d never be over, until that day in the distant future when I have the chance to move back to where I belong.
But a piece of myself lives in my new city now. When I leave school during breaks, I miss my classmates, my dorm, my favorite study spots. Going back to visit my family and friends doesn’t make me feel complete in the way I once did.
Is this what growing up is? This feeling that you no longer have a real home, that home is just a collection of people and places that you’ll never truly be able to reconcile? This constant sadness that the relationships you work so hard to build will only be temporary in the long run?
I know rediscovering various parts of ourselves is what brings us back to those important people and places throughout the rest of our lives. But in the meantime, I still miss those parts like crazy.
Junior year of high school, the time when my anxiety and depression was at its worst, was a lost year to me. Simply surviving took so much of my time and energy, I didn’t have anything left to put into living. I watched myself fall behind in extracurriculars, let friends drift away, and miss experiences that I’m never going to get back. Ever since then, I tend to get really stressed if I feel I’m wasting time or wasting an opportunity. I don’t want to lose any more of my life to idleness.
I had a conversation with my therapist about this a couple days ago–I was complaining about how sad and anxious not having plans the previous Friday night made me, because it felt like this was just one more moment of life I was missing out on. In response, she said something along the lines of “there’s no way for you to get Friday night back, just like there’s no way to get that year of high school back. It happened, and wishing it could be different is only going to make you unhappy. Since you can’t change it, you need to move on and focus what you can do to make sure the future turns out the way you want it to.”
And at the time, I kind of brushed it off. This is a new therapist for me and I’m still not sure if I really like her advice. But then, yesterday, I got sent to the hospital.
So what happened was, I got some sort of stomach flu that ended up affecting me way more than it had other people. Meaning, I lost a lot of fluid, then my blood pressure dropped like crazy, and I was on the verge of passing out before I finally decided that it was time to call an ambulance (I don’t have a car, and it’s not like I could have driven anyway). Once I got to the hospital, they hooked me up to an IV and I started feeling better. But due to delays, testing mix ups, and the fact that they wanted to monitor me for a bit, I was kept there for about 12 hours.
So all in all, 6 hours in bed sick + 12 hours in the hospital + 15 hours of sleep once I got home = around 33 hours of time I “wasted” this weekend.
Yet when I woke up this afternoon, I wasn’t upset about it at all. I was just thankful. Thankful that it hadn’t been worse. Thankful I had only given up a day and a half of my life to get back on my feet. Thankful that I had a support system in place to help me catch up on the work I’d fallen behind on. Yes, I had lost time, but I knew I could now move forward and everything would be fine.
I need to start thinking about Junior year, and “lost time” generally, that way. No resentment, no regrets, just acceptance and moving on. Unfortunate things will happen to me throughout my life: I’ll get sick, or miss my chance at something important, or make a bad choice. But dwelling on it isn’t going to help things get better.
All I can do now is keep looking forward.
I recently read the book Confident You: An Introvert’s Guide to Success in Life and Business. As you may have guessed from the title, this is another one of those quasi-self-help books about how to overcome the aspects of introversion that often leave us at a disadvantage in the professional world (not knowing what to say, being perceived as aloof, etc).
It was good, as far as that kind of book goes. The tips were actually helpful and I’ll definitely come back to them in the future. But books like this always make me wonder, when introverts make up half the population, why isn’t society more accommodating to us? To be clear, I’m not advocating for some total upheaval of the way society works–I know that social skills do help people succeed in life and business, and there’s good reason for that. I’m just advocating for a little more awareness that “quiet” does not mean “uninvolved”, and perhaps more events structured around the kind of socialization introverts enjoy (say, small groups instead of hundred-person events).
I feel that although it is rarely said explicitly, the challenges many introverts have socializing do hold us back professionally. And yet after all this time, the only way for us to level the playing field is to “overcome” our natural tendencies and put on a facade of extraversion. But what about those who can’t fake it? How many introverts are passed over for promotions or brushed off at networking events, and what effect does this have on the amount of introverted Chief Officers? In politics, from local to national, how many amazing introverted leaders lose elections because they aren’t as naturally personable? I often wonder about the effect all this missed talent must have on society. And all because of a weird trait that half of us are born with–it’s crazy.
More than anything, I want someone to study this and show some legitimate, quantifiable effect for the world to consider. I want to know the facts about how overlooking introverts hurts us economically, or academically, or in any aspect of society really*, because that’s probably the only way people will actually consider this a problem. I don’t have the time, ability, or resources to find out… but boy do I wonder.
*(Also, maybe this is a problem that’s just in my head, and there actually is no effect due to introverts being overlooked in the workplace, but honestly that would be an interesting result too. Because if that was the case, why do we need so many introvert self-help books in the first place?)
My name is Monica, and I’m too chicken to make a vlog.
I have things to say (a whole list of ideas in fact) and a willingness to voice my opinion where it is not needed. But I don’t quite have the courage to post my unfiltered opinions all over the internet and have it tied to my physical face (that stuff follows you forever, you know?). So now the vlog has dropped the v and gained a b. In other words… this is a blog.
I’m not entirely sure what this is going to be yet but I expect part journal, part advice, and part 20-year-old-figuring-out-life stuff. As you may have noticed, I’m no writer, but I’m trying to look past that.
So here’s to starting something new, albeit kinda haphazardly.
Stay tuned and get excited. 🙂