Sunday, September 23, 2012

A loner's tale

It's a strange thought that you can begin your day with one outlook and end it with a perspective that is completely turned around. But as of this moment, that is what has happened to me. For that I am more thankful than I have been in quite some time.

What happened, you might ask? Why the change of heart? If you'd read yesterday, you might have sensed my hesitation at starting to live on my own in London, in a flat with a bunch of people I don't know all too well, at a school where I haven't yet formed a clique of friends on which to fall back on.

Well if you sensed that, then you're very perceptive. Because that is, in a nutshell, exactly what was running through my mind last night as I typed out a hesitantly hopeful piece of personal narrative.

Today rolled around just as any average day might. I woke up early, but then proceeded to return to sleeping almost immediately when I could barely open my eyes. My dad and I had breakfast together and soon we were heading to my university accommodation. This was the moment where I'd transition into the life I'd be living for the next few months, so I had to make it count.

In the beginning I didn't do a very good job. I got into my room and spent an hour hanging out with my dad and putting things away. For all I knew, there could be no one else living in the flat and I might not discover it for a few days or weeks.

When my dad was just about to leave, I had to transition into survival mode as quickly as possible. I have a tendency to overreact to goodbyes, and in this case I felt even more depression at losing my one lifeline to the world beyond my thoughts.

For the past few days, I've felt like all I could look forward to at university this term was loneliness. Despite seeing dozens of friends and distant acquaintances return from their study abroad experiences with photos and friendships, for some reason it didn't feel like those were in the cards for me.

I'm not necessarily a loner, but I do play one on TV. By that I actually mean I do a good job of putting on the fa├žade of the comfortable loner when I'd much rather be interacting with humankind.

The first time I ever considered going to college back in the states, for some reason I imagined myself all on my own. All my images of college consisted of me walking around with leaves turning shades of yellow, orange, red and brown and falling off trees all around me. No friends appeared in the daydreams, no work, no reading materials, no entertainment. Just leaves falling and me frolicking. It was definitely a dream because that is just not how things work in the real world.

I've tried once again to put myself into that mindset this summer and early fall. Now that I'm going to a new uni in an all new country, it's my job to acclimate not only to the culture but to the social life. The students in this accommodation are either freshers or study abroad students, which means they're all looking for friends. But even if none of them become close friends with me, the point of this experience is to frolic through falling leaves, not force my presence upon some random mates at a club or a pub.

If I wanted to, I could choose to believe that. But after what I've done today, I'm going to choose not to.

It's not as though I've come to some incredible revelation about making friends and experience life at university afresh and hopeful. But I have discovered that by just saying "yes" sometimes (when the timing and the experience is right), you open yourself up to things that you probably wouldn't have if you only allowed yourself to daydream about frolicking on your own.

My afternoon was spent re-meeting my flatmates who are in my study abroad program. And after reuniting with my precious internet for a brief stint, the afternoon turned into a shopping expedition and an opportunity to learn how to cook myself food.

Finally, in the evening I got a chance to meet my first real British people. Not in the sense that I have never interacted with someone from the United Kingdom before, but because this was the premiere opportunity for me to talk with Englishmen not as a tourist visiting  their city, but as someone who is going to be sharing the same study schedule as them and walking around the same Student Union.

This morning I woke up but didn't want to. Consciously, this was because I was massively tired. But considering I'd had a full night's sleep, I might trust my interpretation of a subconscious trying to keep me from facing my one true fate - trying to make friends in a city, a country that is foreign to my own.

Then I defeated my subconscious. And I discovered that being a loner shouldn't be a goal, but that it also shouldn't be something to avoid. I loved the time I had today to myself - to reconnect with family and friends in some ways and to just relax on my own in others. But I also enjoyed getting to meet new people with whom I'll be sharing the next three months of my life.

Maybe it's excessive to say that little situations and odd turns of events have altered my worldly perspective for the better, but when you go from dreaming of being alone to believing you can make friends, you know you've sparked something in yourself. At least I have.

No comments:

Post a Comment