Sharing: Why I Can't Listen To The Radio Anymore

This may come as no surprise to most of you, but I am an extrovert. I always sort of knew that I preferred being around people to not, but I received absolute confirmation when I worked alone in an office for 8 months. Without constant interaction with many different people, I became sullen and cranky and sad. But when someone would walk into my office and have a lively discussion with me, my mood brightened instantly.

So it came as a bit of a shock to me when I learned that living with my friends is actually quite difficult for me.

I've essentially lived alone for the past two years. In Vancouver I had three room mates in the fall, but we hardly ever saw each other, preferring to cook alone and spend time in our rooms. By January there were only two of us left in the apartment, each with our own bathrooms and operating on completely different schedules, so I, for all intents and purposes, lived on my own.

When I moved back home, I lived in my parents' basement apartment. I moved freely between the house and the apartment, but I chose to live independently, for the most part. I had my own bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and living space. I cooked for myself, entertained guests, and often days went by without any lengthy conversations between myself and my parents. I was effectively living alone.

The first person I told about my acceptance to Carleton (after my mom, obviously) was my friend and current landlord Steve. I was so excited to not only live in Ottawa, but be room mates with a long-time friend. I learned that another friend, conveniently also named Steven, would be living here too, and I thought Amazing. I will have room mates from Newfoundland! My friends! This is the best!

And it is the best. It's awesome to have an Ottawa family. The Steves are fun and make me laugh and easy going and therefore easy to live with. We cook together and eat together and invite each other places and watch movies and have a family text thread. It's nice to always have someone to talk to or go somewhere with or invite you places or offer to pick you up from school. I feel safe and comfortable and happy.

But here's the truth: I am not good at living with other people. What I mean is: I am not good at not thinking of the group as opposed to myself. I never think of what we are going to have for supper, rather what I want. I am resentful that I can't listen to CBC Radio One to get my morning laughs and news at 5:45 am because it's not polite to wake people at such an ungodly hour. I feel guilty for wanting to read alone or watch something on my own instead of participating in family movie. I'm bad at not living alone.

Don Miller has a whole chapter dedicated to being alone (called "Alone" if I'm not mistaken) in Blue Like Jazz (and seriously, if you haven't read it yet what are you waiting for? Me to talk about it more? Because I will!). He says:

When you live on your own for a long time, however, your personality changes because you go so much into yourself you lose the ability to be social, to understand what is and isn't normal behavior. There is an entire world inside yourself, and if you let yourself, you can get so deep inside it you will forget the way to the surface. Other people keep our souls alive, just like food and water does with our body.

And I think that's interesting and difficult and true. So I am slowly working my way out of myself and embracing this wonderful Ottawa family that I've been given. It's so nice to not be alone.

Number of books read in 2012: 16
Current TV series: The Office (UK) series 1
Current nail colour: Illamasqua's "Muse"


Thea said…
Another great post, Jillian!

As someone who does live alone, I do sense the real danger of becoming my own world and losing touch with what is "normal" (for lack of a better word).

I'm so glad you are enjoying your new Ottawa family! And I've got a solution to your CBC radio blues... get the CBC radio app on your iPhone and listen to it at ANY HOUR with headphones!

Ok, as much as I love to READ about your life, I'd also love a chat sometime soon on skype! How about tomorrow (sunday) morning?

Thea (your west coast friend)
That's right! Embrace the Steves!! It's good to have a new fam around after leaving your home. Hope you Newfs are having fun up thurr.
Unknown said…
I'm the exact same way. I thrive on living alone, but I know that it makes me less able to compromise and think of what other people want instead of just thinking about myself. DAMN YOU, OTHER PEOPLE, HAVING NEEDS AND DESIRES.
Tammy Williams said…
I lived alone for many years before moving here and getting married. It IS a huge adjustment. It took a husband, a kid, and another kid to realize that there is more to life than myself. Now my life is mostly lived for OTHERS and when I get a moment of peace and quiet I am extremely excited. I want to read, shop, clean, and do all of the things I never get a chance to do in my otherwise crazy-busy life. So what I would tell you is to do your own thing now while you have the chance. The Steves will understand and maybe even thank you for turning on your radio and being their wake-up call. When you get married and have a family it is near impossible to schedule "Me" time so just get it done now girl! (Not that you asked for my opinion though.)
Aunt Janis said…
The best Womb-mate ever....

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