I had gone through the trouble of always feeling the need to be loved and secured by someone else. It wasn’t until my late junior year of college that I truly understood what it meant to “feel okay alone” or to “enjoy one’s own company,” and later manifest these ideals into my college life. It took a lot of skipped classes to wallow in self-pity, a lot of dependency on my boyfriend, and a lot of broken friendships until I could understand how good it feels to be content to be alone (or really just how important it is to reach that point).
I’m not sure if I took those sayings too literally, though. I mean, I’m in my senior year of college at a university with over 50,000 students and yet I can count on one hand the number of lifelong friends I have made here. It’s sort of a sad reality to some, but to me it’s not. I have a contradicting personality.
I am an outgoing introvert. I can talk to whoever I want to and probably become friends with them within the first 13 minutes of a good conversation. The chances of that happening, though? Probably none.
It’s weird to think about it. I like to talk to people and interact with people, but when it comes to my free time I get selfish. Literally. I just want to be with myself. Not in a depressing way, I actually enjoy it and find happiness and contentment with it. I used to be the partying type. My freshman year and into part of my sophomore year I spent every ladies’ night in midtown and every weekend downtown on the dance floor with a big group of friends, getting too drunk to remember what even happened. That’s really a different story, but my point is I definitely had my fair share of those endless nights spent with my friends being young and reckless.
I moved on quickly. It was mostly because I grew up too quickly I think. I went to college literally completely south of where I grew up. Massachusetts to Florida is a pretty large distance. I had no choice but to grow up. I didn’t know anyone here and my first goal was to make so many friends I couldn’t keep track of them. Oddly enough, I did just that. Like I said, my freshman year was full of crazy nights, cute guys, and great memories that I honestly will never forget and will cherish for a long time. I think what happened, though, was I got more in touch with who I was and truly what I wanted in life. This happened due to bouts of anxiety and mild depression I experienced at the beginning of college. I realized that my true happiness did not come from going out and getting drunk all the time. That was fleeting fun. There was no lasting contentment except in the morning when I woke up without a hangover (which I oddly never got, so I guess you can say there was lasting contentment? Ha.)
At this point in my 21-year-old life, the thought of going out exhausts me. I am sitting here writing this on a Friday night after the longest week I have ever had (I think I say that every week, but nonetheless) and I just can’t even picture how I would be going out right now. I’m pretty sure I would be just sitting at a bar staring at my phone, probably on Pinterest looking up some gluten-free recipes or whatever. But then – “oh hey! how are you? oh my gosh it’s been forever!” Ugh, Sally just dragged me into this convo. Oh, and here comes 5 other random people; they look really nice and fun, I think I’ll just strike up a conversation with them right now! I am honestly just too outgoing to avoid meeting new people and making “one-night-friends” because it’s so easy for me to do. However, there are only certain instances when I meet someone who I connect with on a deeper level and can invest more time in.
Side note: I do have friends. I do have meaningful relationships. I guess you can say I am just highly selective, and totally not in a judgmental way at all. It’s more like I know I have to divide my energy among the people in my life I choose to be close with and this energy is lacking in the social department because of my introverted nature. It’s so hard to explain without sounding pretentious.
I actually do love seeing people I know, or used to be friends with, or am close with now. It’s cool, because once again it makes me feel ‘loved’ and important to someone else – the exact part of me that I tried to get rid of by learning to love myself and enjoy being alone. While I am so happy to have learned that valuable life lesson, it is important to understand that everyone wants that feeling of being needed or loved. We were created to love and to be loved. And it’s okay. It’s really just in our nature as people. For me, though, I struggled with finding that love and community with a huge group of people because of my introverted nature. I could talk to them forever, but the lasting connections and friendships just wouldn’t make it past level one.
We all have things in our life or parts of ourselves that we wish we could change but most of it is stuck with us forever. My outgoing, introverted personality might be a little weird but I’m okay with that. People tell me all the time that I don’t “seem” introverted at all, that I’m always talking to someone or, the most popular question, “how can you just randomly talk to people like that?” Dude I don’t know, really I am just an introvert who happens to be socially outgoing. I’m okay with knowing I don’t really find enjoyment with large groups of people, but that I still want to have solid, intimate connections with a small number of people or one-on-one hangouts.
More importantly, I am okay with knowing that I re-energize feel revitalized when I spend my down time not in the presence of others but in my own company, with my dog, with music, with my blog, or anything else that helps me feel refreshed. It may seem like the social norm to neglect other responsibilities and just hang with friends (at least that is what it seems like in college), and coming from experience there is truly no need to forget who you are to mold yourself into that expectation. I did that. I grew out of it. I learned who I was an accepted it. And believe me, there’s totally nothing wrong with staying in on a Friday night doing absolutely nothing. Go you.