I remember a scene from my younger days.
It was a neighbor’s birthday party. I barely knew the son. But his parents had invited us through our parents, and so we had to go.
There was a sea of faces I didn’t know. And the 14-year old me (goodness, I just realized I was already 14 then) was unhappy. I wanted OUT. I didn’t know anybody and didn’t want to know anybody. I just wanted to go home as soon as possible and write about the horrible experience in my diary. It did not matter how delicious the cake was, how fun the games were, I left as soon as possible. I did not understand why we had to waste time fulfilling social obligations as such.
In school, I did not like to speak. But with friends I could not seem to stop laughing and giggling. I think the number of teachers who have ever heard me speak in front of the whole class can be counted on one hand.
When dismissal time came, I liked to take the 2nd bus (I had to change buses to get home) alone so that I could stop by the pet shop and talk to the dogs behind their glass panels.
My parents were always telling me to “open up” more. Open, open, open. I always thought, I AM Open. Just not to other people.
During University days, I enjoyed Train time as Alone time.
Spending long breaks alone in the N*E library also became something I looked forward to every Friday, when there was a 5-hour gap between History Tutorial in the morning and Harmony Tutorial in the late afternoon.
I remember wondering silently to myself if all teachers were supposed to be outspoken and loud and… LOUD. I remember wondering if I made the right decision.
“You mean you went out alone?!”
“That sounds interesting! Who’re you going with? … What! Alone?!”
At first I felt like a freak when people asked me these questions. Is there something wrong with me? But I can’t deny that it’s been something I’ve been doing increasingly more often these months.
Sitting in the library or a cafe, with nothing else but my books, notebooks, favorite pens and thoughts… Or going somewhere to explore the back alleys of shop houses and snapping pictures… Or stepping into a silent museum and admiring the art pieces… Or sitting by myself in a dark theater to watch an art film… I always end such sessions feeling more recharged than if I had been out shopping or partying with friends.
Today I turn 25, and (is this a present from Above?) I came across this link which made me feel a whole lot better about myself.
As the article also implies, this is not to say that I don’t enjoy being with friends. I cherish time with them greatly, if not more, than time alone. And as with all other things in life, Balance is key.
Will probably read this book someday as well 🙂
Happy Boxing Day, everybody!