I am quite happy at this point in my life and I am 99% comfortable with living solo and spending time by myself. For 15+ years, I was in a relationship that consumed almost every facet of my life. Without intending to do so, I now realize that I had allowed that relationship to distance me from family and friends. Once it ended, I really didn’t know what to do with myself or how to reconnect with those that I had unintentionally abandoned. However, it feels like I’ve been working four years on completing a 1000-piece puzzle (remember those?) and I have a few pieces with which I am struggling to find the right place. It seems that no matter hard I try to fit in and make friends, I am still mostly a loner. I often travel, dine, and attend events solo. Sometimes I connect with people I consider to be friends or would befriend if we were strangers before, but I still don’t have the companionship or the level of friendship that I had with him. I do know now that I would never, ever allow any relationship to have that much control over me, but I definitely miss having a best friend with whom I can talk about anything. I carry many thoughts and emotions inside of my head and my heart.
I feel like I have a lot to contribute to a friendship. I am loyal beyond a fault, kind, polite, and caring. I usually give way more to others than I accept from them. I go above and beyond. So why is this so challenging? Interestingly, I think that some find me a bit threatening, for lack of a better word, although nothing could be further than the truth. I believe living solo is a sign of bravery that some may not possess and it makes them uncomfortable. All that being said, does the friendship world have a place for someone like me? Or am I destined to remain a loner?
I think part of the reason I feel the way I do is the influence of social media, with which I have a love-hate relationship. I scroll down my Facebook News Feed. I see people out and about with others, spending time with loved ones, and posting the perfect parts of their lives. It compounds the feeling of singleness. I wonder why I don’t have that level of comraderie in my life. Why am seeing all of this from afar instead of living it?
The good news is that living life completely on my own for the past four years is ultimately a testament to my strength and to some, that may be intimidating. I moved 2626.9 miles away from home. I take care of myself and my cat all by myself. I manage every detail of my life. I have learned a new career in only two years. My writing has blossomed. Perhaps being a loner is actually a gift waiting to be shared with those who understand and embrace my power and affection.
Anyone know who William Faulkner was? If so, this blog post is for you. He was my favorite writer in high school and I wanted so much to be able to master stream of consciousness writing.
First, I must call bullshit on that saying, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me (exact words may vary). While I understand that I can choose to ignore words, I am human after all, and a (budding) writer, and words, especially the written word, stick with me. Words are powerful. That’s why we read and write, yes? I remember what I see and read, because I am very visual. I was one of those kids who read by dim light late into the night, until my mom would come in and tell me I was going to go blind if I kept doing it. (I did end up having to wear glasses starting at age 12). If I were to rewrite this saying, it would say, Sticks and stones may break my bones. Those will heal. However, words break my heart and my heart doesn’t forget.
Which leads me to social media. Yes, I know the beauty of it: connecting and reconnecting with people, businesses, interests, etc. That’s it in a nutshell for me. That being said, most of the communication via social media is by writing, whether it be status updates, comments on a status, tweets, emoticons, etc., and since social media is public, we tend to put out an image of ourselves that isn’t accurate. We often write (aka say) things to each other that we probably would not if we were standing face to face or talking on the phone, because there is this shield of distance implied in a virtual conversation or interaction.
This bugs the hell out of me. I’m so damn open that I just lay my life and feelings out there like a freaking store display, but I rarely have a reciprocal experience. Yet, I continue to put myself out there being Miss Nice, Miss Survivor, Miss Wine, Miss Travel anyway. Then I get to be judged by and compared to a jury of my peers (aka “friends”) with a thumbs-up, not a thumbs-up (What, don’t you like what I wrote?), a retweet (or not), a favorite (or not), and a slew of replies and/or comments that range from relevant, empathetic, sympathetic, kind, cool, to totally irrelevant, rude, mean, WTF, etc. Seriously, don’t the spiritual and inspirational people of today tell us that we should only focus on ourselves, not compete with each other, and not compare ourselves with each other? But there we are out there passing some sort of judgment every, single day by our words, thumbs-up, emoticons, and even silence and inaction.
This is what I’ve been struggling with for a while now. I miss interacting with people in real life and on the phone, where often a facial expression or a voice inflection will prevent a misunderstanding that is often missed in the written, virtual world. Sometimes I just want to say, Pick up the damn phone and call me! I want to connect with a human heart through the spoken word. I want to hear words and feel meaning and emotion while looking at someone’s face and into their eyes.
Words matter. Choose carefully. There are no do-overs.
A few years ago, I wrote a post about this topic for another blog, but the blog has since been discontinued, which is sad, because it’s like losing part of my writing history.
On September 11, 2001, my life was so different. I was a college professor in Virginia. I was dating a guy who lived and worked in the New York City area, so the events of that day hit close to home. I remember I was teaching a class via interactive television when the technician ran into my classroom and switched the channels as we saw the replay of a plane hitting the twin towers. It was and still is so surreal. When the first plane, American Airlines 11, hit, we thought it was an accident. When the second plane, United Airlines 175, hit, we knew. I dismissed class and the college closed, but my students remained glued to the classroom televisions. I made my way to my office and kept trying to call my boyfriend from my cell phone, but my calls would not go through. Finally he called me to tell me he was OK, as was his brother, who worked for Citibank. I was relieved for them, but heartbroken for those who lost their lives and who lost family members and friends. Silly me kept hoping for more miracles than actually happened. To this day, I still cannot believe the magnitude of loss of life.
During the course of that morning and day, we heard about American Airlines flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon, then United Airlines 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania when passengers attempted to gain control of the aircraft after it was hijacked. It was as if the destruction and death would never end. I will never forget this day or its moment in history. I still grieve for those who lost loved ones.
I still remember what it was like to fly after 9/11, how quiet it was when I landed at Dulles instead of National for a required doctoral class at George Mason. I remember seeing the smoldering twin towers from my weekly flights in and out of LaGuardia Airport for what seemed like a very long time after the events of that day.
I also remember the kindness that we shared with strangers after this tragedy. For a while after 9/11, people seemed to care more about each other. I saw more public displays of politeness and affection and less frustration and anger. It still breaks my heart that it took a tragedy like this to make us treat each other with more love and mutual respect than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime.
If there is one thing I could wish for this anniversary of 9/11, it would be for us to return to love, in spite of our differences, and in honor of all the lives that were lost that day.
Photo Credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/
Every day I receive an email from my favorite blog, The Daily Love. Today’s featured post was about learning to take risks towards success by facing and managing fear. The section below jumped out at me.
How much money you have doesn’t define how successful you are. It’s your inner peace that defines how successful you are. You want to know how successful you are – answer this question: Who are you without any money? That answer will define how successful you really are.
We are all are on a journey to better our lives and achieve our definition of success, whatever that may be. In my journey, I know I have days where I feel like I am treading water instead of moving forward. I battle loneliness. I struggle with inner peace. All of those challenges aside, who am I without any money?
I’m a loyal and steadfast friend and confidant. I’m my cat’s mommy. I’m a survivor of a budgetary reduction in force. I’m a teacher and student of life. I’m a hopeless romantic in spite of a great love lost. I’m a certified wine geek and a certifiably crazy travel geek. I’m a new media writer. I’m a person who gives my all to what lies before me, no matter how great or small. I’m a risk taker. I’m a single girl doing it all on her own.
I may not be where I want to be yet, but look at me! Not bad, eh? So what about you? Who are you without any money? I hope you’ll toot your own horn in the comments, then keep moving forward, kicking ass and taking names.
This week gave me many opportunities to think about what I say, what I do, and the decisions I make. Let me be very clear that I hate conflict. I think that preventing conflict from happening at all is the key to a happier, easier life. I avoid it like the plague to the point that I sometimes allow myself to become submissive to other people’s demands. Which leads me to this: NO MORE TRYING TOO HARD TO DO EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE ALL OF THE TIME. Living life with something or someone else as the primary focus keeps your eye off the real prize, which is yourself, your life, and your happiness. You matter first. You are the only one that you can change. Look within. Choose to focus on you. Make yourself and your life better. Most importantly, allow others to do the same. Our happier selves lead to happier everyone.
In letting go of trying to be and do for everyone else, you realize YOU DON’T NEED ANYONE ELSE TO BE HAPPY. I struggle with this all the time. Do I want to be single, dating, or in a relationship? However, the bottom line is that I can do this alone, even if it sucks sometimes. I’m strong. I’m a survivor. I’ve earned my new life and I have the scars to prove it. I need to celebrate me. You need to celebrate you.
If there is anything that you should take from this post, it is: KEEP IT SIMPLE. Or in other words, LESS IS MORE. We all know this. Simplicity leaves time for more of what’s good in life. Saying less often leaves less room for error. If you have a choice, don’t say whatever it is you were going to say, especially if it’s negative. You can always say it later if it really matters, but most of the time, it doesn’t. Simplicity also keeps us from taking on and doing too much. Excess is often the root cause of any problem, whether is be thoughts, words, or actions. Life should be about QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY. Scale back, slow down, relax, breathe, savor life’s simple pleasures.
OK, so I almost wanted to call this post Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret. Anyone else remember this young girls’ coming-of-age book? And to think when I read it back in the day, I was only terrified of getting my period for the first time, growing boobs, and wearing a bra. If only life were this simple.
Turns out that life is much more than that.
I do have one piece of good news to report. I had my second clean chiropractic scan tonight. It had been a long 10 days since I was miraculously clear after the box purge. Because I was so clear, I received a minimal adjustment. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Let’s see if I can stay clear for the next 14 days, as my next visit isn’t until August 13.
Now to the not-so-good news. For this, I have written a letter to the Universe.
So yeah, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. At least according to Kelly Clarkson. But this song is so 2011-2012. It’s 2014. Cut me a freaking break already.
Don’t you think I have had enough life’s strength training? I promise to utilize what I have learned and keep working out on my own if you could please just let up on me a teeny tiny bit. I have a fitbit, you know. You can track my ass.
Is it because you are still testing me? Trust me, I could bench press a Hummer right now. What have I done to deserve this?
Maybe you think I’m a cool, single crazy cat lady. Of course this is true, but seriously. Where are humans when you need them? Where is the love?
Or is it because you are trying to save me? Could it be that I need to trust you, trust life? It’s just so damned hard to do it all alone.
Please bring back the simple life, like periods, boobs, and bras, K? I’d be good with an old-fashioned game of Spin The Bottle, too.
Holding out for a hero,