If this were a movie

College was not what I expected in any way. That’s not really a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just the truth.

Today I went to a choir concert and there, I released the emotions I had held back. I started crying in the middle of a choir concert for reasons I couldn’t quite identify.

If this were a movie, it would fade to black right there, with me sitting in the back row of a crowded, dark concert hall, directly in the center and crying as the singers slowly and soulfully repeated, “no one’s gonna hurt you.”

And I thought, “well, that’s where you’re wrong.” I sat surrounded by people yet alone. So close yet distant, so many accumulated moments leaving me with nothing but empty yet crowded rooms and vague songs in the background.

I thought about how this year was so many things then nothing. And people did hurt me. And memories hurt me. And fears hurt me.

When movies end that way, I often interpret it as the main character being broken, as life just not working out the way people want it to, as nothing making sense.

Nothing makes sense. I don’t know what I’m doing. The artsy films I watched in class last semester feel like my own old, distant memories. “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift takes me to the deep and vivid fall colors when I thought I was starting to understand. “Style” takes me to spring when I drank lots of coffee in the weak sunlight, everything slowly unraveling around me. The artsy movie would make it seem like I only went backwards. Like I knew who I was before I came here, and then all of that was ruined.

But the truth is, college taught me that I never really knew. I’m not back where I started. I’m starting somewhere new. I sit in the back of a dark auditorium. And I think the guys singing know that people will hurt me. I think they know that not everything will always be okay. But I think they know, and I know, that in these moments, we grow.

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Miss Independent

Maybe calling myself “independent” is a way to glamorize that I like being alone. I don’t have a problem admitting it; though I love people, I also treasure my alone time.

I recently went to a concert alone, and I actually received a comment about that being “so sad.” I wasn’t sad, so I don’t know why this person was. That’s not to say that I like going everywhere alone; I was writing a story about the concert and when I’m working, I like to be focused and alone. But without even knowing the circumstances, people were so shocked and sad that I would go by myself.

I know some people who refuse to eat alone. I don’t have a problem eating alone. I often prefer it. Some people are terrified of being alone, and I treasure it. That doesn’t make me a better person, just a different one. And for some reason, people find that hard to comprehend.

For some reason, people think “alone” automatically means “lonely.” People think that  I couldn’t possibly choose to be alone. Because, to them, if I had the opportunity to surround myself with people, surely I would.

And maybe that’s true for some people. Some people are both alone and lonely, searching for people to fill them with energy and comfort and a sense of belonging. I love being around people, but it also drains me. I’m the most energetic writing in the middle of the night, accompanied by no one but the sounds of soft music and my keyboard as I type. I’m the most energetic sitting in an empty room, flipping through the pages of a magazine and sipping on coffee. I’m the most energetic when surrounded by my own ideas and the possibilities they could create. And around certain people, I’m energetic too. But I need the balance of both. I need late nights alone with words on pages. I need late nights with people with words floating quickly into the air around me. Some people make me feel like I belong. But to me, it’s more important that I feel as though I belong on my own. And I do.

Sometimes, I want to be around others. I want to tell jokes and laugh and connect with people. I want to be inspired. I want to have deep conversations and hear new stories. But sometimes, I want to sit on the floor and scribble words into a notebook. Sometimes, I ignore text messages for a few hours simply because I don’t feel like responding. Sometimes, I look at the world as an outsider surrounded by groups of people, not because I’ve been unfortunately excluded, but because I chose to step back and take the world in. Because I want to be aware. Because I want to know people, but I also want to know myself.

Sometimes, I have to get away and go for a long walk by myself. Sometimes, I want nothing more than to go on a long walk and have a deep conversation with someone else.

This isn’t one of the romantic comedies or pop songs where “miss independent” falls in love or becomes cool and worthy then abandons her sense of independence. This is my journey, and sometimes, I need to explore on my own. I might be alone. I might be lost. But I’m not in search of someone else; I’m simply discovering myself.