Annnnd we’re back for part two of my first theme of 2018: Isolation.
If you’re joining me for the continuation of this recap series, thank you. You like me, you really like me! Or maybe you don’t like me as much as you like my writing. Or maybe you hate both me and my writing—this is also acceptable. Whatever floats your boat, you know? It doesn’t mean its valid though. Just sayin’…
Anyhoo, if you’re new here and you’ve randomly stumbled upon this particular post instead of its predecessor, hi! You’re more than welcome to jump right into the story midstream, but I think it might make a whoooole lot more sense if you start at the beginning.
When Life Becomes A Cage
2018 wasn’t always kind to me.
In fact, life presented countless opportunities for me to feel rejected, unliked, untalented, and unattractive this year, and it felt awful. Despite my tendency to be reserved and low-key, I have never experienced such a hit to my self-esteem in all my 32 years of living. Never before have I genuinely believed that people hated me. In fact, I’ve never experienced legitimate low self-esteem in my entire life…until this year.
If you want to know the truth, I felt like a social leper.
You know that person in your life who can never been single for more than a minute? The one who is barely out of one relationship before they are shacked up with a new person in another? Sure you do. We all know that person.
You know, the one whose eyeballs are constantly glued to their phone because heaven forbid they miss a notification or DM. The person who can’t be alone. The person who will just perish from boredom and loneliness if they don’t see or interact with another human being for longer than a commercial break. Heck, you might even be that person.
I, for the record, am not.
Don’t get me wrong, people are…people. I like them—most of them, actually. Sure, I’m not particularly fond of jerks and airheads, but someone has to love them…somewhere out there in the world…right?
The thing with me is that being around too many people too often, drains me. There’s an appropriate time and place for everything, but when I want to be left to my own devices…I want to be left alone. And that doesn’t mean that I’m mad. I’m not even miffed. I simply want to spend some time wearing a messy bun and sporting my favorite paint splattered and hole-riddled t-shirt without someone judging me or my Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman marathons. Gosh! 😂
That being said, it takes A LOT for me to feel lonely. Growing up as an only child, I learned (perhaps too well) how to roll solo. Keeping myself entertained is a breeze, so I rarely notice a particular need for social interaction. I’m typically just as happy in my own presence as I am with a group of friends or family. Sure, it is usually more fun to hang out with others, but you get my point (hopefully).
Well, 2018 totally brought me to my knees in this area. Things got lonely. I mean, LONE LEE. Though it didn’t happen super often, when loneliness did rear its ugly head, it was bad. Like, really bad. And with the depression and anxiety stuff…woo! Oh my goodness. It was just this self-perpetuating cycle of profound despair and overwhelmment.
When things went wrong or I started to feel as though I was being consumed by…whatever…there was literally no one to talk to except for God—ever.
In theory, this is obviously not a bad thing, but we also know that this is not quite the same as talking and having someone audibly talk back. And the last time I checked, God was not “down to hit up the mall” or have a gaming sesh, you know?
All the same, the isolation definitely served its purpose as far as my faith life is concerned, but we can get more into that later.
As the year went on and things simply appeared to be getting worse, I began to seriously second guess myself. Perhaps this is why I temporarily suffered from poor self-esteem over the summer.
I started really wondering what was “wrong” with me, why people didn’t seem to like me. I mean, of course they didn’t like me. Why else was I having such an impossible time making friends?
No matter what I said or did, I would always feel…shunned. It reminded me of The Scarlet Letter; it was like I had a big fat, stupid red letter “A” plastered to my forehead (only the “A” would be an “N” for “no friends” or something). 😅
Routinely, I would go through a mental checklist of all the things that could be causing the trouble. Mostly, I would worry over being generally boring and lacking in all of my former wild ways. This was a stinging concern of mine—especially when I would interact with men.
Once upon a time, I had zero problems catching and keeping a guy’s interest. I was fun, vibrant, and up for almost anything. These days? Oh gosh. The wildest thing about me now are my two domesticated housecats so… yeah, I don’t “turn up” much more than the television volume these days.
Speaking of being boring, this actually leads into the next issue I spent a portion of The Great Isolation of 2018 thinking about.
Now, I could be totally wrong, but the one thing I identified that is different about me now opposed to back when I had no trouble meeting new people, is my faith.
I’m not sure if anyone else has ever experienced this before or if I’m just a “lucky” little unicorn, but I’ve noticed that my ability to make new friends has become more impaired the more I grow in my faith.
Though I have not inherently changed (I still have many of the same hobbies and listen to much of the same music), I do feel that much of my personality, which made me fun and likeable (but also a hot mess), has been lost in the process of improving my relationship with God. It is a bit of a Catch-22.
I don’t want to get too deep into this topic because it’s too complex an issue to be smushed into this little recap, but I often struggled with feeling ostracized due to my belief in the Lord.
At the end of the day, I’m not striving to be “likable” nor am I personally concerned about how boring I may or may not be. It’s merely something I have noticed and have grown curious about since there does seem to be a correlation between the two factors.
The strangest thing is that aside from on here, I do not particularly talk much about my faith. I don’t wave religion in people’s faces nor do I run around trying to make people convert to Christianity (no offense if you do). I mean, if someone would like to discuss faith issues with me, great; I’d be most happy to share my knowledge and experiences. However, it often seems that people can smell the salvation on me from a mile away, causing them to stay away in droves! LOL!
I cannot tell you how many times I have sat down to ponder life when my mind’s attention has settled upon the notion that people liked me a lot better when I was a jerk.
(That sounds so weird… I mean, can women actually be called jerks? I imagine you can think of a far more fitting word to insert there…as could I, but I’m trying to refrain from using coarse language. Trying.)
It’s true though. I was not always a very nice person. My friends and I would gossip a lot. We were stuck up at times as well… not so much because we intentionally meant to be, but the environment and people we were exposed to didn’t help matters much.
Even still, I can make no excuses for the way I was. There have been many, many shameful occasions in the past where I behaved in a manner most deplorable. I can’t bring myself to even think upon them, they disturb and embarrass me so.
There are times in the present day when people comment about how nice and friendly I am. For some reason, their calling me “nice” and actually telling other people how nice I am shocks me. But now that I think about it, I’m not sure what surprises me more about this particular scenario: the fact that I am a genuinely kind-hearted person now or the fact that despite being a nice person, I remain friendless and single. Weird.
I guess the world is more messed up than I previously imagined…anytime people would prefer the person I was over the person I am.
Bob The Builder
A mega-tornado came tearing through my pixel perfect life at the start of 2012.
In 2013, a string of uncontrollable wildfires broke out, and by 2014 I had a Category 5 hurricane brewing in the not-nearly-far enough distance.
2015 was the year where one earthquake after another cracked the foundation of the life I’d built and cherished.
In 2016, a nuclear war was unleashed—killing everything.
I spent the whole of 2017 whimpering as I laid crushed beneath the rubble.
If all of this is true, then 2018 was when I finally stepped out of the fallout shelter—with my wounds crudely bandaged—to see that everything and everyone I loved was gone. No trees. No houses. No cars. No noise. No nothing. With the exception of my lovely parents and pets, the landscape of what made me…me had been flattened to the ground with no signs of life. I had to start over.
But how do you start over when there’s nothing left of the builder? This is where God enters the picture once again.
When I first started this blog at the start of 2018 I made one thing perfectly clear:
My life was a mess.
I was a mess.
Everything about me, my life, and my sheer existence on this Earth was amiss. There was no focus, no clarity, no direction, no assuredness. There was just me, and my confusion. Me and my worry. Me and my whatever else. I felt pulled in so many scary and bewildering directions that I ended up mentally sitting on the ground going nowhere…for quite awhile.
But in the midst of it all, I was suddenly flung across the country to move to a state I’d only ever visited once as a child. I knew absolutely nothing about it other than cacti, crazy summer thunderstorms, and pretty sunsets—that’s it (I’m not even exaggerating either). In my mind, I was incapable of going anywhere, but I had moved.
All throughout 2018 I despised the aloneness I experienced. It constantly felt as though an invisible hedge had been drawn up all around me, preventing me from going out and others from getting in. The predicament was so unwanted and undesirable, and yet, the more I fought to amend it, the more alone I became.
It didn’t make any sense for me to be unlikable, but I could never find another cause for my solitary journey. It simply had to be me. Something I did wrong. Something I said wrong. Maybe I looked wrong—I didn’t know what the issue was.
Eventually, it dawned on me that it was possible that a boundary had been drawn around me, but not because I wasn’t a person worth knowing. The boundary was there because I was worth knowing.
You see, that’s always been my main problem in life: Distraction.
For as long as I can remember, socializing was my main priority. I wanted to live life to the fullest, so it only made sense to constantly run the streets hanging out, traveling, and having fun. And for the most part, there is nothing wrong with any of that. All of it is wonderful, beautiful even. It’s good to spend time with people and enjoy everything the world has to offer, but it’s not appropriate to do it all of the time.
But that’s exactly what I used to do. Forget actual priorities. My priority was to have fun 24/7. Periodtt.
And no, that’s not a typo. 😂😝
God made me inaccessible because I didn’t have the common sense to do it myself.
From 2012 to 2017 I allowed life to beat me up…just pummel me. I could scarcely fight back, but whenever I did, I always fought with the wrong weapons. I didn’t have a relationship with God. I didn’t even know what that meant.
Instead, I relied upon me, myself, and I. I did what I wanted to do, how I wanted to do it, and that was the end of the story. Well, that surely was the end of the story because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, so everything got messed up.
Some stuff was my fault. Some stuff wasn’t. Some stuff was just…stuff. Life.
Whatever the issue and whatever the cause, I needed to spend time rebuilding what had been destroyed. Habits had to be changed. Discipline had to be instilled. Patience had to be developed. Forgiveness had to bestowed. Pain had to be endured. Lessons had to be learned. Confidence had to be reassigned. Strength had to be built. Faith had to be tested.
But to achieve that, I had to be alone.
In the next part of my 2018 recap, we’ll be moving on to the second theme of my year: Exploration. I hope to see you there!
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