Archive for December 17th, 2010
December 17 – Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)
The idea of learning something about myself is strange to me. This is falling into a similar place in my head as the idea of not feeling integrated with my body. How do I learn something about the person I am? I guess learning something about oneself generally comes along with surprising yourself, and I don’t think I’ve surprised myself much this year. I haven’t put myself through any tough, new situations. I haven’t demanded much of myself.
I guess this would be the year that I most learned that I can unashamedly be me and still have friends. No, I don’t mean that I decided not to think about others and that turned out to be okay. After college I worked for a year, and lived by myself in a one bedroom apartment. I stayed in my college city and still had many friends, and my boyfriend, who were still in school, but I didn’t socialize a lot. On a good week I saw my boyfriend two or three times during the weekday and then for part of the weekend.
All in all, I spent a lot of time by myself. The lab I worked in was tiny (my PI, a post doc, and then one other person) and not very social, aside from two or three times when we had fun lab parties at my PI’s house. I came home at night to my parrot and the internet. Many weekend days were spent home alone.
To some people this probably sounds like a very bleak existence, but I really needed a break. I had started to feel a bit suffocated by my social circle, and after four years of sharing a room (even though I adored my roommate) I really needed some space. In retrospect, I wish I’d gotten to see Ahmet more, now that we’re spending at least four years living in different cities, and I do wish I’d kept up with my friends a bit more too, but I had to go to work early in the morning and they tended to socialize pretty late. I made it out when I could, but the timing often wasn’t right. I also unfortunately didn’t start playing the kinds of video games they did until a year after the fact. Oops.
So now I’m back to having a roommate, and being in school, and having friends, but I’ve managed to hold on to some of that precious solitude I had cultivated. I think I hung out with people by default too often in college and that lead to the burn out, but now I actually think about whether or not I want to be around people. And I haven’t lost my friends by doing this! I don’t automatically become a less desirable person to be friends with if I can’t, or simply don’t want to, accept every single invitation.
Maybe that was the best thing I learned about myself this year. That the people who love m unconditionally (ie, family) aren’t the only people that like me when I’m being, well, me.
And I definitely love me when I’m being me. I kind of miss those “lonely” weekend days, sitting at home with bad sci-fi (syfy…) channel movies in the background and my parrot happily playing by himself, occasionally demanding attention but mostly just happy that I was in the same room. I’ve come up with new versions since then though, and once I get around to buying my parrot’s new cage (a smaller one for my room, so he can be where I am when I’m at home; right now he has a large cage in the living room), it’ll be almost exactly like the old days. But now it’ll be in my new(er), comfy room, which I’m currently in love with because I finally bought a cover for my second comforter and I love the bright colors of the two covers together. And I have a space heater which I also love and which is desperately needed; I knew my room was the coldest in our apartment, but I never knew how much colder it got. Well, with the apartment temp set at 65, my room can get as low as 51. Now, even though it’s winter, my least favorite season, I have my bright warm haven of a room to retreat to and be me, nothing held back, no part of me compromised.
And it’s a good thing.