“A simple little kind of free…”

a·lone [əˈlōn] adjective & adverb 1. having no one else present; on one’s own.
vs.
lone·ly [ˈlōnlē] adjective 1. sad because one has no friends or company.
These two words are talked about a lot. People keep on talking about how millennials are not getting married or buying houses. People are just starting to figure out the value of introverts. We talk about how more and more, people spend time in front of a screen instead of in front of a person. We blame acts of violence on “loners.” But, for what it is worth, I have more or less enjoyed my solitude.
I loved my roommates in college, it was great.  It was like having siblings for the first time, something I had always wanted. But once I was done with grad school, I was also thrilled to live by myself. People have asked: “aren’t you lonely? don’t you get bored?” And the simple answer is “no.”  Eighteen years of being an only child conditioned me to spending time alone, finding ways to keep myself entertained. I don’t have to share a remote. I can organize my cabinets the way I want. I don’t have to live life by anyone’s rules but my own.  Now, that is not to say that I wouldn’t mind company every once and while. Or that I am not interested in eventually sharing my life with another person. I am. Not gonna lie though, it will probably take some time before I am willing to give up my own space.
It is the not the act of being alone that necessarily makes a person lonely. I feel lonely in crowded places all the time. I have chosen to attend concerts and musicals alone because I refuse to allow my single-ness and small friend circle prevent me from doing things that I want to do.  But that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t lonely while doing these things. As I walked up the steps to my balcony seat at the Providence Performing Arts Center through crowds of people, I felt so lonely. I had chosen to do this; and, I wanted to see the show, but I also felt so judged. Other people’s judgment, in fact, may be a significant source of the feeling of loneliness.
Particularly around the holidays, “all of the things” have a way making people (specifically me) feel less than if we are not paired up in order to attend parties and holiday events. I wish I could say this was all in my head, it might be easier to deal with if that were the case. But I feel confident that I am not the only person experiencing this. Between the jewelry ads and the “first tree together” photos there is a remarkable amount of messaging that indicates: “you better find the one or your holiday will be incomplete.”
This post is wandering, but to bring it back to the most important point, I just need to remind myself and everyone else that being alone is not the worst thing a person can be. To summarize Robin Williams, the worst thing is to be surrounded by people and still feel lonely. So choose your people carefully. Choose people who will show up for you when you are least deserving. I have a fear that I will choose a person to be my partner simply because they showed up once. I need to be sure that this person will show up repeatedly so that I don’t feel lonely in a crowded room.
Until then, do not judge or pity me because I am alone. I am not lonely until I feel your judgement.
*disclaimer: It took me over a year from start to finally finish this post. It was too difficult/painful for me to finish it when I first started managing this idea of alone v. lonely. I think I’ve finally got a handle on it. 🙂
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Dear President Obama,

You’re probably very tired. I know I would be if I were you. You have had to stand in the White House Press Briefing room and share condolences with too many families, communities, and towns. You urge Congress to act, and you promote sensible gun control legislation to no avail. Willie Geist put it best this morning on MSNBC: if 20 6 year olds did not move Congress to act, nothing will. Today, people are fighting about the gunman’s causation, they are fighting about next steps, they are fighting about freedoms, and bathrooms, and continue to try to legislate love. I don’t agree with you on everything, it would be weird if I did. Too many citizens seek a politician that matches them perfectly and can get elected. That doesn’t exist. But, I empathize with the struggle you have endured with Congress, the media and the American people for the past eight years, yet I can never fully understand it. I am a 28 year old straight white woman who voted for Bernie. I know nothing about the struggles of a biracial man who holds the highest office of our country and is the leader of the free world.

I write to you because I woke up this morning feeling the weight of yesterday’s tragedy on my shoulders. I work in student affairs on a college campus, and thankfully, students have left campus for the summer. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. Oftentimes, my office becomes a space for discussing current events and I am usually happy to host, but I don’t know that I have any more words; of comfort, of explanation, of rationality. Today would have been even harder than it was if the students had still been on campus. I advise our student government and this year I helped them to draft a statement of equality and social justice. It was important to them to make a statement after Mizzou and other campus incidents, but even these young adults squabbled for weeks over the wording. If college students are supposed our future, I am trying my best to prepare them to be good citizens and more importantly, good humans. I no longer have faith in Congress, but I have faith in them. Certainly, you can relate.

I apologize for the delay in reaching my point but here it is.  Please don’t stop fighting. For sensible gun control legislation. For our disenfranchised communities. For future generations. I know the clock is ticking on your Presidency, but please don’t give up.  Your persistence in the face of terrible discrimination is what provides hope for those of us who are working for a better future. Your persistence is admirable. And while I truly believe that future historians will “tell your story” well and kindly, please remember that our new favorite playwright reminds us that “history has its eyes on you….” You have done so much for this country and I just hope that you keep fighting until your very last day in office. America needs you to lead. Thank you for answering the call. Ribbon LGBT

Strengths Spotlight: Intellection

I wrote a thing for work. Check it out if you are interested in Gallup’s Strengths Quest or finding value in creating time to think.

Professional Development Reflections from Student Affairs at BSU

by Kaitlyn Dyleski, Assistant Director – Office of Student Involvement and Leadership

Nerd.

Bookworm.

Daydreamer.

Seeing Intellection in my top 5 initially brought those words to my mind; all of which I fully embrace.  However, as I read more about Intellection as a talent, I began to see the moments in my life when I had been utilizing it. I began to notice moments when a thought would get away from me and I would just start thinking about it and researching more information (this is where my Learner talent intersects). I began to notice that other tasks would be left undone because I had gone on to pursue this other idea or thought. In those moments, I was not just casually thinking about this idea.  I was thinking about it from multiple perspectives, I was considering alternatives, and I was interested in gaining a deep understanding of the concept…

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Train Travels

I have to start by saying I think I forgot the golden rule of NYC.  Don’t talk to strangers.  That’s the rule, right? I have stopped talking to the random people in Times Square, I outgrew that rookie mistake after my first few trips to the city when someone tried to sell me their mixed CD. My best friend had to practically rip my arm off to get me to keep moving when I was just trying to be nice. Oops. But I was young, I didn’t know any better. Here I am, almost 28 years old and I just accidentally eavesdropped on a conversation in a coffee shop and couldn’t help but add my two cents.  I think she was grateful for the shared opinion but weirded out that I actually talked to her.  My bad.

I literally arrived here on the train no less than 30 minutes ago and after a year hiatus of visiting the city and I have already broken the rules. But, that is not what this post was supposed to be about.  Like I said, I just arrived on the train and while everything else in the world seems really scary right now: the presidential race, North Korea, my ever-increasing realization that I have to be an adult every day; my train ride was a reminder of calm and simplicity.  I love the train.  If I could take a train everywhere I would. No road rage, the ability to do other things, and a decrease of all things relating to an automobile.

When I boarded my train this morning, I realized that my train was really bound for Washington, D.C. and a I had a pang of jealousy that I was not bound there myself. About eight years ago to the day I was taking that exact trip to Powershift and a piece of me wishes I could do it all over again.  On that ride, there were about 7 of us traveling together and we had a great time.  I don’t mind traveling alone, but that trip was just a tad more fun. We also had purpose.  We were fighting the good fight. We were learning how to lobby for green energy, and lower carbon emissions, and a sound energy plan.

My trip to NYC this weekend has no such purpose except to remove me from my normal day to day and bring me to a city where I can literally just melt into the crowd. Now at the mid-point of the semester, all I needed right now was to get away and so I decided to hop on a train to the city. My coping skills are impeccable. Ha. But the city has a rhythm that makes my heart happy and makes me feel a little less alone in this big world. And so my eavesdropping was even more perfectly placed this afternoon. The twenty-something in the coffee shop was posing the question of “why do we have to be married to be complete? and why can’t we all just live in a house with our closest friends? why can’t that be our full life?” and I couldn’t help but jump in with a “yes, that. all of that. I agree” and then laugh embarrassedly that I had just outed myself as eavesdropping. whatever. I’ll never see her again and I think we both felt a little better knowing that someone else felt the same way we do about societal expectations.

It was a pleasant, if slightly awkward, moment. But that is pretty much the epitome of every trip I take to the city.

tense.

I let my shoulders drop. I hadn’t event realized that they were living up at my ears all day.

I unclench my jaw, suddenly realizing, that is probably the origin of my pounding headache.

I am starting to realize I spend an excessive amount of time in this way. Shoulders lifted, jew clenched, stomach sucked in, etc., etc.

All of this helps to explain the neck pain, back pain and headaches. I don’t need a MD to know that this is probably really bad for me and is probably not a way to live. But, I am often caught unawares, when suddenly, I release something that I was tensing.

The worst part is I can’t pinpoint what is causing it. I am not sure what stressors are causing my body to revolt against me in this way. And more importantly, how has this become normal for me. Why does it take so long for me to realize this tension is even happening?

I don’t consider myself to be overly stressed on daily basis. I mean, I have stressful moments/days, but I don’t feel constantly stressed. Or do I?

So, I have turned to yoga. I have begun making an effort to get up and leave my desk more often. I have tried to be more aware of what my body is doing. But every once in a while, my body still betrays me.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to remove all of the tension for my life, literally or figuratively. But I know I need to pay more attention to it when it shows up.

 

 

Once upon a time….

I love the ease of a good book. It doesn’t have to be a classic or even a remotely high quality text. I don’t care how many awards the author has won, or the number of sales they have had or the number of NY Times best-selling lists they’ve charted.  A good book for me transports me and removes me from my reality.  It provides an escape that no plane, train or automobile can supply. I mean, I want a book to make me think, to perhaps challenge my perspective, but as long as it accomplishes that goal I am satisfied.

I just finished a book that did that for me.  For a week I was transported to the 1930’s somewhere between Manhattan and the Rhode Island shore.  I could vividly see the ocean, and the fourth of July celebration and the fancy gowns of the upper east side at New Year’s. I delayed my reading some days just so I could make he story last longer, so I could stretch out the experience. I am my own worst enemy because I just want to know so badly what happens to the characters that I can’t wait. books-are-a-uniquely-portable-magic

 

And so I usually end of feeling varying levels of sadness when I finish a book. Knowing that the story ends and that there is no more evidence of the lives that the characters lead is sometimes intensely sad.  Perhaps I just need a better hobby and stop whining about the end of novels. But I think the point I am trying to make is that books are powerful.  They have the ability to create an alternative reality to the ones we must live each day. You get to experience a different life. Your mind and emotions are stretched. Your life made more whole.

thousand-lives