Sunday, December 2, 2012

Happy to be me

Do you ever fear that you, or most of humankind for that matter, tend to live life with a little too much hesitance and pessimism? Now, I know that as a first line that comes off almost like the beginning of an infomercial, but it's an idea I've been considering a lot lately, even outside the realm of trite questions and overused phrasings. I'm not just posing this question so that we can come together as a sort of self-help group.

It's more because for the first time in my life, I don't feel quite as paranoid. Maybe it's a character flaw for me specifically, that so much of my life has been spent wondering if what I believe is too good to be true. I keep all of my enthusiasm in check for fear of it getting out of hand, getting my hopes up and drawing me down to terrible depths when things go awry.

Maybe it's being in London or maybe it's just life in general that has taught me otherwise lately. I feel like recently I've begun to treasure every little moment with the people I love. I don't particularly enjoy being alone, yet in moments of solitude I also appreciate the feeling of owing attention to no one but myself. London gives me both of these options. Study abroad in general has done this for me.

In my time in England, I haven't made many friends at all. I've dated and I've met new people, I've tried to participate in clubs and societies, but become overwhelmed by commitments and decide my priority and devotion was to the enjoyment of my time in my favorite city.

It's left me feeling quite cut off. When I don't have people to call upon to go out with on certain occasions, I sometimes wonder if I didn't set my priorities quite as well as I had hoped I would. Back at my home institution, I have a great group of friends whom I can ask to do activities with. I can always expect to have some accompaniment no matter what I'm doing. It's a luxury.

Then again, having people to call on all the time means not having much time to myself. Or feeling like time to myself is wasted time. And that's not true.

I've discovered how much I adore spending time with myself alone since I started living in this room stranded on the seventh floor of a building, looking out over a nondescript London landscape and planning my tube travel for the next day.

These are the quiet moments that, despite seeming mundane and unexciting, are going to make up the wonderful remembrances that I'll conjure up every time I miss this silly old city.

Even though I love spending time on my own here, though, I do recognize the faults in living a life that is solely my own in this city. At times I long for companionship when attending events or wanting to go to plays or shopping or anything else. But in the few people I've met while here, and the people I've kept in touch with, I make up for the lack of a wide array of friendships that I have back at home. And it's worked out.

Plus, every night when I arrive back in my room, I know that I have one person to talk to about my day whom I can consistently count on. That's my dad. Somehow, he's been here every day since the beginning of my study abroad experience. Heck, he's been with me since my first day of college. And I don't know what these experiences would've been like without him.

He's like a racquetball court, echoing with my complaints and showtunes (Dana and I like to sing musical theater songs while we play racquetball) but never fighting back (except maybe to throw a ball back at me, effectively reminding me to get back into the game when I feel anxiety or complacence about my schoolwork or what have you). This is a weird metaphor, but I like it.

Every day I've spent time FaceTiming with my dad. It's been an irreplaceable experience, inextricable from my London study abroad time in general.

And it's his presence in my life each day that proves to me that the best part of being me right now is that I can be surrounded by family and friends without being bombarded by them. Just because people aren't right outside your door step or in the next room over, doesn't mean they're not present in your life.

If you can maintain contact with someone, they will always be there. Hopefully when you need them.

So I have the pleasure of being alone and surrounded at all times. But the thing to take away from all of this isn't the pleasure of having a dichotomous existence, not a hermit but not a social butterfly. What's most valuable to me, and what I've realized in these past few months, is that it's great to just be happy with when and where and who you are. That's what I am right now, and for the first time I can feel myself moving forward.

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