The difference between alone and lonely
Tonight I stumbled on a Washington Post post about the value of solitude:
“My own interest is in people who are single at heart — those who live their best, most authentic and most meaningful lives by living single. My preliminary findings suggest that people who are single at heart don’t worry about being lonely; instead, they embrace solitude. What’s painful for all of these different types of people is not time alone but not having enough of it.”
I always appreciate these like-minded takes on loneliness when I find them. I love being alone. Not all of the time, but a lot of it. “What’s painful for all of these different types of people is not time alone but not having enough of it” sums up a lot of my existence. I love the people in my life and I hate it if they get offended when I decline an invite to weekend plans.
No, seriously, it’s not you, it’s me. I spend all week at work talking to people and telling stories. Decompression is key for anyone, but I think especially so for journalists.
Part of it, too, is the trauma I’ve been through. It’s finally become easier to speak openly about it and what it’s done to my life, good and bad. Having a moderate traumatic brain injury at the age of 18 (“moderate” in the sense of a TBI is a doctor’s way of saying “pretty fucking bad”) taught me to appreciate time by myself. My brain needed it. I couldn’t handle the stimuli of too many people talking or asking me questions, or too many things demanding my attention at once. At times now, I still can’t, though it’s far more manageable than it was in the couple of years after the wreck.
I won’t get too serious, because a) I’ll save that shit for the book and b) I don’t want to give the impression that trauma still dictates how I function on a daily basis. It doesn’t. Learning to appreciate being alone one of the beautiful things that came out of the TBI and the subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder.
Besides, there are plenty of non-TBI and non-PTSD reasons I like being single, like that Washington Post columnist talks about.
For one, I know I’m a bad date. If you’re a friend of mine reading this, please don’t message me and tell me that no! It’s not true! I’m lovable and amazing! Well, obviously, but you’ve probably never been on a date with me.
If you are ever on a date with me, at some point I’ll grill you about your run-ins with the law. I backgrounded you before going on the date, so I’m really just giving you the liar test. If you fail, I’m out after the first drink. If you had a bad enough record upon the background check, I unapologetically canceled via text (sorry not sorry; I’ve been interested in enough jailbirds to know it never leads to good things).
Next comes the thinly veiled political test to see if you are what I consider politically bat-shit crazy. I’m aware that my beliefs may make you think the same about me, so I figure we ought to just get that out-of-the-way first thing before either of us invests too much time, energy or money into this. Dating isn’t fun, and anyone who thinks that is someone who probably works in marketing or event planning. These people are good at drinking all night at mixers and soirees without sloppily confessing strange quirks and/or suddenly becoming overwhelmed with the desire to go to sleep. God bless those people.
This leads me to my job and career, the thing that I’m sure has turned off most of my dates. I like it more than you and it is more important than you. As I subtly referenced above, it is exhausting at times, so I might not even have a lot of energy left for this date. Why hasn’t the server come back to take our order yet??
I love it in the twisted way that journalists love their jobs, and if you ever expect to truly understand that, I have bad news for you. I love it in a sometimes-obsessive way and if I’m nervous, which, if I like you at all, I will be, I’ll talk about it a lot. I’ll get extra talkative if you compliment me. I’m bad at receiving compliments but I do still secretly hope you will give them to me. When you do, though, I’ll also assume you might be trying to butter me up so you can later butter my muffin, as Mean Girls put it. You already can’t make me happy, see?
TLDR: you would probably rather pull out your own toenails than go on a date with me. I would likely rather spend that time with a book and go to bed early, anyway, because I’ve probably got an early assignment tomorrow.
Click here to read the rest of the post that sparked this post..