Friday, January 28, 2011

I Actually Do Feel Fine

I'm a glass-half-empty kind of girl. My worldview is often dominated by the negative, and I sometimes have a hard time looking at the bigger picture. REM's "It's the End of the World As We Know It" could be my anthem, if they didn't follow those words with the phrase "and I feel fine" in the actual lyrics. In short, I'm usually Debbie Downer, which puts me at the top of everyone's invite list for funerals and divorce parties.

Which is why it was so especially bizarre when, as I was making a quick Starbucks run this morning, I had the passing thought, "Life is pretty good right now." The sun was shining, I was feeling accomplished after an especially productive morning in the office, and things generally felt, well, good. Despite the facts that I really don't know if I'll have a job come September 1, and I'm not dating anyone at all, and I weigh too much, my life feels pretty decent right now.

I've finally gotten more comfortable with being alone. Weeknights at home, watching TV or reading a book or even catching up on work, don't feel so painfully awkward and lonely anymore. If I do get the itch for some company, I'll sometimes grab a book or my laptop and go to my favorite hangout, where I know the bartenders enough that they'll chat with me a little. I'm trying to make sure I have a few exciting events that I can look forward to; next month I'm taking a Chinese cooking class with a girlfriend and driving up to Dallas to go to a concert with another friend.

I'm trying to get better about going on casual outings. Sometimes I'll make plans with a friend - to meet up for happy hour, to grab dinner, whatever - and then, when the time approaches, just not feel like it. I'm tired, or the activity no longer sounds appealing, or I just don't feel like leaving the house that day. The times that I do force myself to go, I usually enjoy it, so I'm trying to be better about following through on those plans. Tonight I'm going to an opening at an art gallery that features a coworker's paintings, and then heading over to see another friend perform with her band. I'm hoping that making myself do more little things like this will be a good way not to fall back into the boring rut I'm usually in, and maybe help me meet some new people, too.

Things aren't perfect, but I no longer feel compelled to be with someone just for the sake of being with someone. Alone and lonely are different things, and I'm learning to feel the difference between the two. And while my glass may not be full, it also isn't empty, and not empty can feel pretty good, too.


Ms. Press said...

Yay, Erin! I loved that video you posted about being alone. This post (though more upbeat) reminds me of this lovely poem, from one of my favorite collections... definitely written for middle schoolers. Ahem.

Jean Little

I am alone ... and lonely.

My own sadness makes everything around me more beautiful.
The dusk falls softly,
As simply as a page turning a bird lighting on the ground.
The sky grows dull rose near the rooftops
And, high above me, a sea-blue-green.
I am caught up in it all--and small.
I search for words. I ache with words I cannot find.

Inside, the phone rings.
"Where's Kate?" Dad asks.

I am here--but I say nothing.
He calls--but I do not answer.

"She's not in yet," he says to someone.
"I'll tell her you phoned."

I could go in.

Soon it will be suppertime anyway,
Time for eating and talking and being part of things,
Belonging again to the horrible, boring, nice, funny, noisy, busy, angry, loving world of people.

I'll go in when I have to.
In half an hour, I'll even like it.

Now I'll stay out here, hugging my separateness, my oneness

I am alone. I am lonely.
I am growing into me.

Maxmillian Hencke said...

Great post, Erin. I think you have a very healthy outlook right now--and an inspiring one, too. Hold on to that feeling. Keep looking for ways to enjoy being alive in the present, and things will fall into place.

Erin said...

@Verbivore - I love this poem. It's so close to how I feel sometimes - but not always, thankfully. And you're right, there's a whole lot of middle-school angst in there.

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