"Lonely is a freedom that breathes easy"

I always have great ideas for blog entries at like 01:00 when I’m lying comfortably in bed and just on the cusp of sleep. I’m always so much funnier when I’m approaching dream-land than when I’m wide awake, oatmeal stuck to my ribs, and trying to decide which shoes are appropriate for the weather of the moment.

The past few days were sort of difficult. I’ve started watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (clearly I am in need of serious procrastination material if I’ve gotten over my Meredith grudge), and there was an episode that really struck me: A doctor, who had Asperger syndrome and didn’t like being touched had a massive freak out and the only way to calm her down was to hug her. She used some fancy medical jargon to explain why the body’s nervous system reacts to pressure, something about suppressing the nerves, blah blah blah. And something about that episode, that moment, made me realize how incredibly lonely I was.

I’m not a lonely person by nature. I like being with people and actively seek out companionship when I need it, but I also really appreciate sitting at home watching TV, reading a book, or cooking for one. Sometimes I need to be alone.

But I think watching that episode, I realized how I’ve been completely alone for almost two months. Obviously I see people and engage in conversation, friends and classmates and people on the bus and Starbucks employees who upsize my latte for free because they’re out of pumpkin spice flavouring. But these people aren’t familiar, comfortable, a part of my every day, and I haven’t had a prolonged interaction with anyone since September. I haven’t had human contact with a familiar, everyday person, in a long time.

I went to church in North Vancouver on Sunday, and when I saw my friend Jen and she hugged me, I almost cried. I’m not an overly affectionate person, but sometimes it’s just really nice to be hugged.

Luckily, friends are there when you need them most. On Sunday evening, I met with three friends who had all worked at MUN's Writing Centre and who've all ended up in Vancouver this fall. It was nice to be with familiar school friends, people who know the profs and other coworkers you're talking about, who've gone through the same program and work experience as you. People who know your history. I spent Tuesday evening with my fellow displaced Newfies, Jen and Shane. I went to Jen’s house where we cooked supper (with real utensils and real garlic and in a real house). Spending the evening in a home, as opposed to a residence, with friends who knew friends from home, and who could relate to everything I was feeling about being alone in a new, big city was exactly what I needed to feel rejuvenated. Plus Shane might be a bigger Gleek than me, and we had a grand time enjoying the Rocky Horror Glee show while Jen mocked our love of Britney and Sue.

I also have been a terrible student since this whole program began. I had an assignment due on Wednesday evening that I completely forgot, or didn’t even know I had to do in the first place. Luckily a classmate texted me to remind me, and luckily I already had some research done that I could quickly pull together, and luckily it’s not a massive deal, but the whole situation freaked me out about my even being in grad school.

Another classmate and I were talking during our class’ break, and I just told her everything I was feeling about grad school - how I feel like I’m sick of school and still not recovered from the burnout of 5 years in my undergrad; how I’m the youngest person in the entire school of library studies, which makes me feel like I have no life experience and thus missing out on some vital part of grad school; how I’m so unmotivated and uninspired; how I feel like my comments in classes are annoying and unhelpful; how I feel like I have no idea what’s going on most of the time.

She assured me that everyone feels lost and confused with school, that my comments are not useless, and that its normal to feel burnt out. She admitted that she also feels unmotivated sometimes, and that life experience isn’t all its cracked up to be. Talking to her really helped, but more than anything, it was nice to be able to voice all of this pent-up fear I’ve been feeling increasingly since September, and know that I wasn’t alone.

A friend sent me this video, and I think it's beautiful.



Tammy Williams said…
Great video. I have to admit that moving away from home changed me. I was forced to do everything on my own - pay the bills, make friends, and embrace the horrid public transportion even when all I wanted to do was to get to class ON TIME or home before dark. I became an introvert, a thinker, a young lady smothered by - herself. Then I became a wife, a mother, and now I yearn for a single moment of silence. A morning when I can get out of bed after 6am or use the bathroom without having someone knock on the door or slip their fingers under the door. Those solitary moments of peace can only be found in the past now, but I would not hesitate to step back in time if given 5 minutes to myself.
Alex K said…
Ooohhh I know this feeling all too well, Jill. Try and be around familiar people as MUCH as possible. And take things week by week. It'll be Christmas before you know it. Hugs.
marcbudgell said…
Well hello there Ms. Sexton! This is the first blog of yours I've read this year (busy busy) but I have one tip. As someone who has been forced to watch the hell that is Grey's Anatomy for years, STOP WATCHING. It never gets less depressing. Merideath (sic) is always sad. Kristina never smiles. That creepy old dude sleeps with every new character, ruining their lives. If you want to cure the loneliness, Grey's is NOT the way to do it!

Consider yourself followed from Ontario, and cheer up!

OzzyMan said…
Oh, Jillian, don't be sad! I can definitely relate the the whole undergrad burnout thing. I just keep telling myself that the more I try, the better it will pay off in the end (although I admit I can be somewhat of a hypocrite). However, at the same time, don't push yourself too hard.

And you'll make great friends out there, and remember that you have great ones here.

Giant hugs,
Anonymous said…
AGH! I wrote a comment and accidentally pressed the back button and erased it. Well here goes again....

Thank you so much for posting this Jillian. I really appreciate it. I can only try to understand how it must feel to be living away from everything that is familiar to you and with you. It's funny but I find myself feeling alone and I'm living I've always been and at 'home'. I'm finding out that loneliness is not just something you find when you walk out the front door. This post has been very encouraging for me and I hope it was encouraging for you as you wrote it. Friends can be found anywhere. Sometimes you just need to look in odd places. I love you Jillian and thanks again for posting both your and Tanya's voice.

Anonymous said…
Hey Jillz,
I'm right there with you. Starting year 2 of living alone is easier than year one. Last year I moved out from a home that housed my parents, grandparents, and siblings. It was a difficult transition. One week last winter I never as much as walked into my apartment- just drove by and slept over at my Triton parent's home. but sometimes loneliness is so seductive. And I find I oscillate between either needing human company or hoping nobody bothers me and my bubble of alone. It's a difficult system of polarities to contend with. I'm happiest when surrounded by people, but after a year of 'alone' I easily get addicted to time with myself.

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