While recently watching Eat, Pray, Love (not of my own free will) I watched Julia Roberts stuff her face with spaghetti in Rome, by herself. She wanders through India, by herself. I came to the realization that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely.
When deciding where to study abroad, I chose Amsterdam in part because none of my friends were studying here, nor was anybody from my college. I wanted to be enveloped in a totally new experience, thrust into a foreign land where I’d have to fend for myself. And I have. I didn’t hit it off with any of the American students in my program. While I’m invited for drinks or coffee, I will not be extending wedding invites to these people.
This is a similar experience to my freshman year of college–I found it difficult to be myself around people, worrying they wouldn’t like me. While that isn’t an issue now, since I’ve realized I have a kick-ass sense of humor and know how to have a good time, I don’t see the point in wasting energy on temporary friendships. Meanwhile, my closest friends from high school went down their own paths at different schools. Many became part of the world of Greek life, a concept which is lost on me. One of the reasons I was attracted to Fordham was its lack of Greek life; in this or any universe, I am not a sorority girl. And while my friends seem to have made wonderful new friends, I don’t fit into that part of their lives, and they have changed in ways I have not.
I have become newly grateful for my willingness to be alone. I enjoy going to museums alone, I cook dinner for one, and I am becoming less bothered by eating in a restaurant by myself, or going to a bar alone. I contemplated buying a cheap flight to Milan, since nobody else was interested, and spending the weekend there by myself. I didn’t, mostly to avoid giving my mother a heart attack–a well traveled woman herself, yet she seems to think a serial killer/sex trafficker/radical terrorist is waiting for me in each new city I visit. When my flight was delayed, I sat at the airport bar and ordered a Heineken. I don’t feel like there is something missing–except the bullshit that comes with forced conversations with mere acquaintances.
On the five hour bike ride I embarked upon today (more on that later), I had a lot of time to think. I’m grateful that I have friends at all…it’s amazing that people can tolerate me for ten minutes, let alone ten years (thanks, Klaud), let alone my entire life (perks of having a sister). While I will probably never fall in love in Bali, shout out to Julia Roberts/Liz Gilbert for assisting me on my journey to total enlightenment. Namaste.