Wednesday, October 20, 2010
As part of an extra-curricular program I'm undertaking at uni, last week I went to attend a net-working event and seminar. I stood near the doorway entrance nervously, alone. I didn't know anybody and was looking around the room with an obvious mix of desperation and embarrassment pouring from my eyes like some sort of doe-eyed puppy awaiting adoption. I was tossing up whether to catch the first train home or hover near the free food pretending to be texting on my phone until the talk started when I thought - this is ridiculous. There are times in life when it's OK to back down, to slink away, to admit defeat but this was not one of them. This was one of those harden-up-pull-yourself-together moments. I began speaking to two guys who were in the elevator with me and with the mastery of some small-talk and jokes at my own expense I was saved from social exile. Who knew it could be that easy?
I have to say, as a person who has seven members in her family, two brothers and two sisters - not to mention the long list of extended family and constant crowds of friends that seem to be dropping in at our house - I'm not used to going to anything by myself. Maybe it's a girl thing too, but in highschool we always had to go in pairs anywhere and everywhere. To the canteen, to the bathroom, to speak to a teacher, to drop off a library book. The fear of being alone was routinely tamed by constant companionship.
That was until I started paying taxes, complaining about school children being 'too noisy' and slowly morphing into a person who often prefers to drink peppermint tea and watch a movie than expend my now rapidly depleting resources of energy into constant socialising. Ever since I started this process of 'growing up' I've had to do a lot of things on my own and to my own shock and horror I love it. Independence, that is. The entire concept of 'growing up' still has my Peter-Pan instincts clinging to childhood but the part where I'm on my own doesn't scare me so much anymore. In fact, I revel in it.
The thing about being on your own is that you are no longer accountable to somebody else, you don't have to worry about upsetting another person, catering to their needs or walking on eggshells, you are allowed and indeed you have the perogative to follow your own dreams. While not having a familiar face around is hard, it pushes you out of where you're comfortable and into somewhere a lot more scary and infinitely more interesting. Not having anybody to hide behind anymore you're forced, in a way, to have new experiences, to meet different people and to have adventures all of your own. I'm not encouraging being lonely - but there's certainly something unique about doing things lone-wolf style.
As my first ever university tutor told me, "I'm more about getting out of the box I'm in, rather than better decorating it". I've always taken this to mean that, instead of accepting the life you're given without question and simply trying to 'make the best of it', you consciously look at what else is out there, what life you want - you seek it out and make it yours. Adventure, over decoration. I'd take the first any day.