Independent = Lonely?

Posted on April 3rd, 2009 by BreAnn

When I first moved from Wisconsin to Los Angeles wayyyy back in 2001, I was over-emotional to the fullest extent. All I could think about were all the friends, family members, and co-workers I was leaving behind, and all the amazing and special memories from my entire lifetime that I would now have to file away in the file cabinets of my brain in order to keep them alive.  Concurrently, my parents were divorcing—and–surprisingly, one of the most devastating thoughts about the situation was the possibility of them selling the house . . . . the house I had spent my entire childhood and adolescence growing up in . . . . the house that contained every single memory of my entire life from birth on.  And it tore me apart at the thought.

The first year in Los Angeles, I learned a somewhat hard lesson of learning to play phone-tag with many people back in Wisconsin, and receiving and sending impersonal emails from/to those who I thought were SO near-and-dear to me.  As time went on and I slowly grew more wise and independent, I learned the differences that seperates aquaintances from the real friends in your life, and that NO time or distance can ever seperate true friendship and unconditional love.  Fortunately, I find appreciation and solace in these amazing friends, who—after being apart 6 months or a year+ — seem to be the same as I left them, keeping a connection so strong that it seems as though no time has passed.

Meanwhile, I had always been a person who loves to have people around at all times . . . and almost depended on that.  I never dreamed of living on my own because that would be “boring”, and I always felt I HAD to be out doing something on the weekends or I was such a “loser” for being home alone on a Friday night, or I was being “lazy” for spending 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon watching a movie and relaxing.  I was attached to EVERYTHING!–attached to the house I grew up in, attached to coworkers which kept me in jobs longer than I needed to be, attached to boyfriends…which is why I always avoided relationships for fear of the pain of detachment from a breakup. Going on a vacation ALONE was completely out of the question because—who would you talk to?  How boring would that be?

Fast forward 6 years, and I look back and realize how immature, insecure, and dependant that train of thought was.  I realized I thrived off the attention of other people, and I depended on other people’s happiness and praise to validate my own self worth.  And I enjoyed the distraction and entertainment of other people so I didn’t have to sit alone in silence with myself.  Over time, I slowly learned to enjoy these times alone, enjoy this silence, and depend on only myself . . . because, afterall, you are really the ONLY person in the world that you can rely on 100%, and I embraced this strength and independance as I grew into a young adult, alone in this world . . . and I loved it.

When I went on my month-and-a-half long trip to Europe ALONE in 2006, I originally did it out of frustration for the lack of money, time and interest from all of my friends. I did it because I was initially pissed off and just said, “To hell with you all, I’ll just go by myself!”   It ended up being one of the best things I could have done in my life!  It felt empowering to do things on my own, take care of myself, and force myself to do things and meet other people that I wouldn’t have done if I had been relying on other people.  This sparked my interest in LIVING in a foreign country on my own, but it took a good year or so to build up the courage to actually do it alone!

Moving to Spain was another huge step in my independence, for now a whole ocean, reliance on technology, and 7-9 hours seperated myself from everybody I loved and cared for in the US.  Throw in numerous problems, many foreign travels, living in my own studio apartment, and then moving back to the US and managing a long-distance relationship . . . and BAM!  I don’t need to rely on ANYBODY anymore.

I feel proud that I am so independent, and confident that I can do ANYTHING I put my mind to, no matter what!   I’ve felt great since I’ve returned to LA and got into my “own little world” where I only depend on myself, spend a ridiculous amount of time alone (and enjoy it), and concentrate on my future, my passions, my work, my home.  I even, strangely enough, sometimes enjoy having the distance between Martti and I because I have as much time to focus on the things I need to . . . and I don’t need to rely on anybody else’s schedule.

So why then . . . am I starting to feel lonely and depressed about my “lack-of-friends situation” over the last month?  Just as my move from Wisconsin to Cali dissolved many aquaintance-type-friendships, I’m realizing my time away in Spain and Finland did just the same thing….but it’s probably worse this time, since many people have now gotten married, engaged, had babies, moved away . . . and there is less importance placed on their friendships. And now I’m too unmotivated to take the time to try to reach out to these other people and on too tight of a budget to go out and try to make new friendships.  In addition, I’m starting to lose my faith in some of my main core friendships–with the exception of a couple here in LA—solely on the extreme lack of communication and interaction, and my loss of dependence on them.

I’m sitting here, faced with the fact that I’m home on a Friday night again and have nobody I feel I can call . . . or want to call and bother.  I’m thinking about when I finally move into a new apartment/condo and I don’t have anybody I feel I can ask to help me move, help me paint, help welcome me to my new happy home . . .without the feeling that I’m inconveniencing them, or I need to compensate them in some way.  I’m thinking about my upcoming birthday and I have less than zero percent interest in even planning something this year because I whole-heartedly really don’t care.

I’m crying the other day to my boyfriend about how passed time and my independence has managed to push out a lot of people in my life . . .   And in another way, I also think I’ve pushed people out of my life for my lack of trust in people in general.  The friendships I made with those two girlfriends in Spain ended pretty horribly, and REALLY left me with a, “Why put in the f***ing effort anymore for other people?” attitude that I really can’t shake, and that haunts me and overshadows the good memories about San Sebastian.

I always thought independence is a VERY important thing . . . and I still do . . . because when I was a dependent person it was extremely high-maintenance for all the people in my life. And I feel that people who rely too much on other people and never venture out on their own are living in a closed-up-box of narrow-mindedness where they rarely have faith or belief in themselves as an individual. Independence is great, because when the day is over and you are left standing alone, you are happy and comfortable being by yourself and enjoying the silence.

But being independent isn’t so great when you realize that standing alone in the silence can be a bit lonely . . . . and you can easily isolate yourself after only a little time.

But I guess, as always, it’s a learning process.  And I’m happy, as always, to venture off and learn as much as I can in this game of life . . . .

One response to “Independent = Lonely?”

  1. Michelle says:

    Ok! I’m reading your blog and getting updated!

    “..and I always felt I HAD to be out doing something on the weekends or I was such a “loser” for being home alone on a Friday night, or I was being “lazy” for spending 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon watching a movie and relaxing. ” Gee, I can’t imagine where you would have gotten that idea from.

    You’ve always been an extrovert, so sitting at home along on a Friday probably does feel pretty boring to you. And it’s new, so you don’t know what to do with yourself. I’ve always been an introvert. I’d really rather be by myself (or hanging with a boyfriend) than with people. And that 9 months when I had no boyfriend was just heaven. Having all that time completely to myself and not having any obligations… Amazing.

    So here are some ideas for you to do by yourself:

    1.) Watch the History Channel, Discovery Channel, and The Learning Channel. They have really cool and educational shows on there. Get a Netflix subscription and rent TV shows.

    2.) Read a book. It’s especially nice to lay outside in the sun and read. You can get a hammock for your new back yard when you have one!

    3.) Take up a hobby. Some of mine have been Family Tree research, photography (cemeteries are neat), wall climbing, crossfit (I lump that into hobbies cuz I put more time into it when I’m by myself), origami. There’s a ton of arts and crafts type stuff you could do. You can go exploring – and combine photography with that.

    And who cares if you spend all day doing what some people might consider pointless, a waste of time, or lazy. Life is for enjoying and if what you want to do makes you happy and stress-free, then do it.

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