The first 18 years of my life were fairly stagnant: I lived in essentially the same place, was surrounded by the same people, participated in the same things, and generally was very okay with all of that. Straight up, I am not a creature of change; I find the most tranquility when I’m doing something I’ve done a thousand times, and I unknot even further when it’s with people that know me like I know myself. I lived for 18 years by these standards and did not consider any others.
And then I graduated high school, and then we drove to college, and then we ate dinner, and then my parents were gone – along with the rest of what made up all I knew for 18 years. I was on the floor of my bare dorm room wondering what to tackle first: the pile of miscellaneous crap on my desk or the stupid tears that wouldn’t quit dripping off my face. I’m maybe being dramatic, but I became a freshman in college, and that was something I could safely say I’d never done.
Leading up to leaving home for the university a mere two hours away, I felt the joyful anticipation of going somewhere nobody knows my name; I felt the eagerness to leave my sleepy city and do things I didn’t know anything about and meet types of people I’d never encountered.
When I hugged my parents goodbye, I quickly deduced that all of my elation was for naught, and that I needed to drop out right then and go to the college twenty minutes from home.
And then, a week later, I was at a cafe alone doing work. I was eating a bowl of stir fry, writing a ton and being unhappy, still, but at least at some sort of rest. And I thought, this is what it’s about. This is finding what will be my new form of “habitual.” This is being okay with myself and that’s all.
Moving away from all that is “normal” and “comfortable” is emblematic of something much bigger, and that is finding Home (at least temporarily) in solitude and essentially being able to shut off that lust for constant, populated normalcy. It is maturing in its most stripped-down form.
I have realized since moving here and not going home every weekend – against every fiber of my whole entire body – that out of personal ease, I spend a lot of time alone and have never had to get so much out of my own company. I came to recognize that even before I left home, I didn’t usually want a lot of social interaction; I wanted to be with my family, and then I wanted to be alone to write or play music or watch Bob’s Burgers.
But I always had my parents or friends as people I could go to when I just wasn’t enough for myself. I concluded that I needed to find the equivalent of that here, at college. And so I found that through trial and error – I found it in eating tofu alone outside as the sun goes down, I found it in playing the guitar on my dorm floor while watching the sky, and I found it in finding a corner table with a wall outlet at the cafe down the street.
I discovered a Home within myself through journaling, and I discovered it when blocking out all the chaos around me with Adrianne Lenker in my ears, and I discovered it in the phone room late at night with my mom on the other end of the line.
I am still not so happy here because I am not entirely myself yet. I still zone out on the night bus while thinking about my family; I still break down in the shower stall because I hate wearing flip flops when I bathe. But I have replaced certain things I couldn’t bring with me to school with other things, and a massive portion of that has to do with accepting my own company as the most valuable and consistent thing I have right now.
Terminating the desire to fill your time with other people and activities when you just aren’t feeling it is imperative in getting over change. You cannot keep adding more new things and thinking it will make a new stage of life more normal. It is best to spend time with yourself and listen to what it feels like your mind truly needs.
If I can do that, probably anyone else ever to exist can, as well. Listen to yourself, and find Home there.