Language... has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone.
~ Paul Tillich
Did you know that "lonely" was one of the many words seemingly coined by Shakespeare?
Now, this might come as a shock to some of you, but for as bright and bubbly as I can be, for as much of a social butterfly as I can be, I'm actually very much a lone
If you've met me in person, you know I'm warm and affectionate (I give good hug) and a laugh riot social instigator. However, if you've known me for a while, you've seen me in my quieter moments. In those moments, I appear either distracted, disconnected, or deep in thought. Sometimes I'm just observing life. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by it.
It's odd to be both very social and very asocial at the same time. I don't know which one is my nature and which one is what I've learned to be out of necessity. Ultimately I think I am social, but scarred and imperfect. My instinct is to be social, but I am often awkward and say the wrong things, then retreat into my shell.
Growing up, I experienced inclusion and (intentional/unintentional) exclusion/rejection from my peers. My father (in the guise of offering advice) told me that no one would be my friend if I acted "that way" (argumentative, opinionated) around them. He wanted me to be a bit more moderate/agreeable but what I heard was that I needed to abandon myself in order to please people. That never sat well with me. I was argumentative (I knew the difference between debate and fight) and opinionated. I didn't attack people, but I stood my ground. I didn't want to be friends with people that were pushovers. I wanted them to respond and be just as forceful as I was (sometimes a category 5 hurricane).
I also realize now that I stayed close to home because of my agorophobe mother (who was not only afraid to go out into the world herself, but was fearful for her kids as well; luckily I do not have agorophobia like my mother and her mother before her) and lawyer father (who saw the very worst of humanity -- murderers, rapists, child abusers, etc.). I began using the internet at a young age (11 or so) and spent more time learning how to be social on IRC and aol.com than building connections with actual people.
[[Edit: My mom died when I was 13. I instantly felt that I was different because of this -- burdened with a sense of responsibility and seriousness from that moment on that would forcefully separate me from childhood. There was a lot of anger coupled with this. While other kids were able to play and go to their activities, I was doing my laundry, cooking dinner, cleaning house, and trying to make time for my father to do things with us (that he never did).]]
In college, I was more content to wander the streets of Washington, DC at night than to actually participate in the life that was there for the taking (except for that brief foray into the intramural indoor soccer club). Years later, I find myself doing the same. I'm comfortable sitting at a bar by myself, on a park bench by myself, climbing the steps of the Lincoln Memorial by myself. Sometimes it just doesn't occur to me that I should be calling friends, booking my weekend to the gills.
That is, until the weekend comes, and I realize that I am alone -- for better and for worse.
This either makes me a good friend (the kind of friend that can always make room in his or her schedule) or a bad friend (the kind of friend that doesn't call to make plans). Luckily, I have many friends that understand that I'm a bit of a social misfit and don't hold it against me (i.e. they know I'm not mad at them, just that I'm oblivious). At the same time, I can understand how hard it is for them to always be the ones reaching out to me or the one making plans.
I hope to work on this. I know I'll never consistently be the life of the party or the epicenter of action. But I hope that in putting this out there in the world, it will show that I'm cognizant of my shortcomings and will be mindful to improve myself whenever possible.
So what does this have to do with the whole weightloss/health gain endeavor? Lots.
When I gave up drinking (when I had to go on methylprednisolone injections for my back), people didn't want to tempt me by asking me out to drink. (I think some people also didn't know what I could or couldn't do with my back problem.) Likewise, now that I'm trying to lose weight, I think some people aren't inviting me out to eat or to parties knowing they're calorie bombs. I need to do a better job of (1) showing that just because there's food or alcohol around that I'm not powerless in the situation to be moderate and (2) planning activities with friends that don't revolve around calorie consumption, but rather calorie burning.
I also want to recognize how this relates to me and dating. I'm approaching 30 and never have been in a relationship where love was reciprocal. This just makes me feel sad, and yes, alone. A friend pointed out that it is better to be 30 and alone than some of the alternatives. I'm not looking to rate or rank all of life's painful experiences, just saying that this is something that weighs on my heart (making it look like a hamburger).