a (forced) love letter to being alone

I don’t want to write this but I have to. I hate being alone. Hate it, hate it, hate it. Unless it’s on my own terms, I don’t want it. Like, right now, I didn’t want to be alone so much that I walked to someone else’s dorm and sat in the study room with a random guy doing some sort of hard online homework just to write this.

I ate dinner alone today. I eat alone a lot. Eating alone makes me feel fat because doing stuff when no one else is around feels pointless. I don’t know why it does. I do some of my best thinking alone; in the shower, in the car on the way to the bank, in my journal, at night in my bed starting at the ceiling. It makes me feel like I’m shouting into the void and that’s a scary thought.

Why do I feel like I waste so much time when I’m alone? Unless I’m doing homework, I feel like doing stuff I like is a waste of time. Sometimes I feel like writing is a waste of time because I feel like I could never make something of this. It’s been so long since I’ve written fiction that I’ve actually shown someone. When I was alone when I was little I used to write and read and repeat. Reading about all my favorite subjects and all my favorite series made me so happy; ancient Egypt, the American revolution, Lemony Snicket, Harry Potter, insects, fashion. I wrote over ten books and over three hundred songs and hundreds of little snippets of ideas that never came to fruition.

I used to share my writing on a website. Only two people I actually know in person knows that I used to do that; my cousin and a girl who was a year younger than me at my high school. So many people read my books. I would finish one and people would comment asking for more. My books would trend on the home page of the website for weeks. I started posting poetry and songs and even journal entries for people to read. I don’t know what it was about my writing that people liked; I wish I knew because I would try to channel that in this blog. It felt so good to be recognized for something I absolutely loved doing. Every day as soon as I came home from middle school, I would write for hours and now I can’t even churn out one half-page of text a day.

When I was in eighth grade I became really depressed. I tried to kill myself. I always forget I did and then I say it in front of people and they’re shocked. And since then I’ve been on and off suicidal. In the past couple of years I’ve only gotten to that point twice, so I guess that’s pretty good. My interest in writing faded as my interest in the world did too. I stopped reading. All I would do was watch Youtube videos on fashion and how to recreate Australian accents. When I was diagnosed with depression in ninth grade, I started going to a hospitalization program for half of the day, five days a week.

Instead of going home immediately after a long day of school to my literary fans on the internet and my sticker-covered journal, I would get picked up in a white van at 12:45 p.m. every day from high school. It always smelled stale and gross and everyone in the program with me most likely does heroin or something and has children by now. I know at least one girl does because I saw her Facebook once; her baby is cute. They basically taught you how to deal with life and talked about the layers of depression that we’d experience. I think the staff liked me because they knew I actually cared about getting better. My parents tried everything, but made it worse; disconnecting me from social media, taking my phone away at night, and monitoring my texts and phone calls only heightened the fact that I felt so alone. Because of my isolation and probably the fact that I was really emo and scared of everyone, I had few friends. I had nothing to write about except my growing sense of loneliness and despair. I would sit in my bed and listen to Lana Del Rey and refuse to eat.

When I’m alone, I guess I just think of who I was when I spent so much time alone. But a lot of people, including myself, have told me that I am not the same person I was six years ago. I can’t believe it was six years ago, because it feels like yesterday and a century ago at the same time. I could sit here and write about how Perks and Nirvana and Teen Vogue changed my life as a teenager and made me feel less alone, but it feels like bullshit. I know it was just time that healed everything. I know that going back to the partial hospitalization program a second time was bullshit. I know that getting a therapist before college to talk about how scared I felt was bullshit. Literally, all I had to do was not be so dramatic about my feelings. I know being alone isn’t the root of my depression. It can’t be, because being alone is just. a. part. of. life. I wake up alone, I fall asleep alone, it’s just the way it works.

I could have saved myself from depression, I sometimes think, because all I could have done was got my ass out of bed and joined a club or sport or picked up a video game besides Minecraft and reteach myself how to HTML code or learn how to cook or something. But I’ve come to the conclusion that my teenage depression was a side effect of being alone. In middle school, people hung out more, and Instagram began to exist. Suddenly, I felt I had to being doing stuff. And me, who had never done stuff, was so confused.

And I love doing stuff. I really do. I think it’s just part of who I am. But I need to get back to the person who did nothing and learn from her. Because when I’m alone I’m creative and introspective and smart. Yeah, I might stare at the wall and listen to Frank Ocean and ponder the meaning of life, but that doesn’t mean I’m depressed. It means I just know what it’s like to hang out with yourself. And that’s okay.

So I guess this is the part where I call myself to action: No more being social! Stay home every night! Start playing video games and watching more movies and finish the entirety of The Office in four days! But honestly writing that makes me want to throw up everywhere! So here’s to trying to watch less Youtube videos about people with aesthetically pleasing lives and here’s to watching more Youtube videos about graphic design and ancient Egypt and making collages.

I always say I want to create more, to learn more, to grow more, and I think the part I’m missing is that people do that when they are alone.

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Toast Can Never Be Bread Again

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This weekend was so strange in a wonderful way. If a little over a month ago I was feeling the seasons change from winter to fake spring, I felt the seasons change from winter to real spring this weekend. It snowed one (hopefully) last time Friday night, the sleet coming down in large swaths, at first melting as soon as it hit pavement and dry grass but eventually coalesced and stuck overnight. Saturday morning it turned into real snow and continued to fall over Burlington; the white sky encompassed absolutely everything and turned windows on Battery Street into stark alabaster canvases.

My favorite days are the ones where I explore Burlington by myself, picking the music I want to listen to, which bus seat I want to occupy, and what cafe I want to do work in. I walked around Church Street, College Street, and looked into most stores I have never entered before. I went to Burlington City Arts, I was the only one in the whole museum, and watched people walk through city park. I did work at a new cafe, August First, and drew in my journal until my hands hurt.

I agreed to have about ten members of Champlain College Class of 2021 in my common room Saturday night. I got them weed, they smoked, we talked. I forgot that people are excited about Burlington. I see it in the faces of the tourists and the way I feel when I look at sunsets, but Burlington lost next to all of its glimmer that it possessed when I visited here almost two years ago. They all inspired me to make more of a conscious effort to notice the excitement here, because it’s there, and we’ve all just gotten used to it, and that’s sad.

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I don’t know what it is, but something clicked in me after spring break. I felt it as I was laying in my bed, watching i-D videos about Korean beauty standards and slowly falling into a deep sleep. The sunlight reflected off of the snow coating the rooftops of South 1 and streamed through my window, illuminating the sounds of birds chirping. For a second, I felt like I was home. Not in the college-is-my-home-fuck-my-hometown way, but I started to blur the lines between Clinton and Burlington for a second, in sleep stasis. It was the same kind of settled feeling I felt in the car on the way to Walmart today when Emily and I had the windows down and Dug My Heart was playing. I didn’t feel inclined to lean my knees against the center console and tense up. I didn’t feel inclined to stay awake for fear of inconveniencing my roommates when they returned from the gym. I fell asleep peacefully, not dreaming at all, settled.