I’m writing this from the food court of the mall.
I’m starting to come to a strange but nice conclusion: I like myself.
That’s not to say I don’t have flaws, because I have plenty of them. I get mad at myself plenty; I know I’m not confident like I should be, and I’m lazy sometimes, and I overthink things. I worry too much about girls, to the point that sometimes my happiness can depend on where I’m at with them (that’s more early high school, but it still comes up once in a while).
Still, though, I generally like spending time with myself.
The past week or so, I’d been thinking about taking a day to do a few things: go to the mall to run some errands, eat by myself in the food court, and probably end up going to the library to do several things, maybe checking out books for vacation, reading, and writing some more.
That’s a pretty typical day. There shouldn’t be anything particularly awesome about the idea of me driving myself to the mall and eating there by myself. But I still just love it. It’s such a hard feeling to describe. Maybe I partly enjoy it because it makes me feel incredibly independent. I also enjoy it because I’ll listen to music in the car with the windows down, which is always great. It also probably has to do with the fact that I’m out of the house; though I don’t hate home, I always like getting out once in a while.
Add to all those things the fact that I’m alone. The excursion would be ruined it if someone joined me, even if they sat a safe distance from me at the library or did their own thing. It’s the feeling of being alone that I so enjoy. I guess that’s what the definition of introvert is, right? ‘Introverted’ doesn’t mean shy or antisocial. It doesn’t mean I don’t have friends or don’t like people. I crave adventurous times with friends, too. I just need some time to luxuriate in my own company.
That’s another thing: people. It’s not that I like being completely alone. Sometimes I like being surrounded by people and yet not knowing any of them. I was in that position plenty in college, and I look forward to it more next year. I’m in the mall right now, with people at almost every table around me, and I like their company even though I don’t know them. I look at a mom with three little blond kids a table over and just smile. I look at a pretty red-haired girl nearby, eating with her mom. I look at a group of macho teen guys. I look at two stunningly beautiful girls in white sundresses. I look at a very little Asian girl hobbling around with a headband crooked on her head.
There’s so many people, and I just find myself liking all of them without knowing any of them or even being in an outstandingly good mood. I want to hear each of their stories. I want to see their Lost-esque or Orange is the New Black-esque flashbacks to illuminate little things about their lives. I want to know each and every one of them. But it’s completely okay that I never will. It’s just a beautiful thing.
They call this people-watching, I guess. I wonder if anybody else looks at me and wonders what I’m doing. I actually moved seats a few minutes ago because from my previous vantage point, I couldn’t get a good look at anyone except people quickly passing by. As I got up and moved, I saw a teenage guy glancing at me and saying something to somebody. Most likely he wasn’t actually talking about me, but I wonder if he was saying “Why’d that guy just move? He looks like a weirdo.” That’s fine.
I think that for your life to be a great one, you have to somewhat enjoy being by yourself. In that case, maybe introverts have the edge. But I can’t imagine being so dependent on others that I’m completely bored and unhappy spending the day by myself. I like spending time home alone so much not because I dislike my family’s company; I just feel better when I’m alone doing things, most of the time. Even watching the TV and movies that I love. Maybe that’s part of the charm of reading. It’s ultimately a solitary experience, most of the time.
So that’s what’s going on. I’m an introvert that loves being alone, with only strangers for company. I’m a quiet guy that nonetheless loves people dearly. Maybe those are the perfect qualities for a writer.
We all experience transcendent moments in our lives. Sometimes these revolve around happy events, but sometimes they’re just mere moments that make your day a happy one, and make you appreciate life more. There are loud, passionate moments, like when I laugh so hard I can’t breathe with my best friends, or like when I finally found myself with the prospects of a real friend group that one night in Ann Arbor, my freshman year of college.
But there are also quiet moments that are still passionate. Moments like this. Where I’m just one guy sitting in a mall, typing on a laptop with a slice of Sbarro’s pizza and a cup of Pepsi, surrounded by strangers who are laughing or telling stories or texting or staring contemplatively into the distance or holding hands or pushing strollers or scolding their kids for hitting each other. There’s a whole collection of people who I will never totally understand, but who are each just as important as me.
If coming to terms with that is what happiness is, then I’m pretty ecstatic.