Isolating Feels Good Until It Doesn’t

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been in major loner isolation mode.

At first, it felt good.  It was nice to go home after work and relax.  I liked saying no to invitations.

It seemed like self-care to go on long walks with no one to answer to.  I enjoyed getting a morning croissant by myself and eating it alone in the park.

Then, people start wondering what’s wrong.  They start worrying about you.  But nothing’s wrong; you’re just enjoying your own time.

But are you?

Even now, sometimes I am still scared to connect with people.

There’s a fine line between isolation and spending quality time by yourself.  For me, I just realized it may be becoming a problem when I feel anxiety about responding to people who care about me.

But lately, I’ve just needed a break.  To reset.  To recharge.  To decompress.

But now that I’ve recharged, I feel a little bit empty.

That discontent feeling I now have is a sign that I need more balance.  My alone time is important to me, but connecting with others is important too.  Sometimes I forget that it isn’t all about me, either- sometimes other people need help.  They care about me.  They miss me.

Sometimes it’s still hard for me to accept that.

For years it seemed easier to try to do everything on my own, so letting other people in is a big change for me.  It’s uncomfortable.  But, I’m working on it.

This week, my goal is to break out of my shell a bit more- and maybe even go get a croissant with another person.

A Cat Girl in a Dog World

Sometimes it’s hard being a cat person in a world of dogs.

Oh, the energy and the constant need for attention!  I don’t know about you, but I get overwhelmed when anything runs up to me, kisses me without permission, or needs me to take it for walks.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been single for almost five years, too.

I grew up with cats and was an only child to a single parent- the perfect recipe for introversion.  I read books, I drew pictures, and I hung outside with the ducks.  Independent and mild mannered, I was a child who felt like an old lady compared to my peers.  Kids my age, puppies, and dogs in general overwhelmed me.  I wasn’t equipped to handle their energy.

As an adult, not much has changed.

This is what “dog people” don’t seem to understand.  I’m not lonely- I am just preserving my energy.

There’s a time and a place for social interaction, and it’s important to know the difference between being alone and being lonely.

I’m proud of my independence- and I’m grateful I am able to sit with self.  Not everyone understands the demeanor or the needs of a cat, and that’s okay- I’m on my own journey.

Being Your Own Partner

The other week at work I told a friend of mine that this would be the summer I would meet a guy with a sailboat.  She looked at me and replied, “you need to find a guy with a dog.”  I looked at her, gave a puzzled look, and said, “I’m more of a cat person.  I’ll go with the sailboat.”

Truth be told, I don’t want the guy.  I want to go sailing.

Society makes us think we need the guy- but guess what? We don’t.

This morning I was messaging with a friend who lives in NYC who mentioned there’s a sailing school on the Charles River, which I had looked into when I learned about the community sailing program.  Sounds like a happy medium to me- the perks of sailing without the baggage of the guy.

Funny enough, over two years ago I went on a date with this friend; yes, he has a sailboat, and no, I am not interested in him.  However, two years ago I would have hung out with him purely for the boat.

This Kristin would rather hang out alone.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about partnership.  How many people do you know who are in unsatisfying relationships?  I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of these people.  Sure, some people are scared of being alone.  Some people are extroverts.  Some people want to settle down.  Some people like the security of having a “plus one.”  However, I see absolutely no reason anyone should feel obligated to settle down with another person.

To me, a man would only hold me back- unless he was extremely strong.

The one and only time I am certain I was in love ended after this person told me he didn’t want a partner- ever.  This shook me to the core.  He was one of the only people in my life I could just sit in a room with, fall asleep next to, and sing old Chicago songs with.  He was only time I ever got “the fuzzies;”  I didn’t even know what “the fuzzies” were until I met him the very last night in June of 2014.

Nevertheless, it ended, and it has taken me four years to finally realize he wasn’t perfect, either.  He would sit on his phone all morning, go to Brooklyn and hang out with his old Harvard friends without me, and was the most self-deprecating person I had ever met.  Still, I loved him.  A lot.

But since he left me, I learned to love myself.  In fact, now I love myself enough to not let another person bring me down.  If a guy were to tell me my sunglasses were too big, my lips were too red, or my hair was too short, I would laugh at him.  If a guy suggested I wear shorter skirts, tighter tops, or send suggestive photos, I would run.  Fast. 

Sexism, misogyny, and objectification have no home here.

The old Kristin didn’t stand up for herself, so she fell for everything.  Yes, that is cliche.  However, what I didn’t realize was that I was attracting the wrong people because I was insecure.   I know this is partially because I grew up without a male role model; and the things I did hear about women were negative, judgmental, and, well, mean.  

They say women get their loving side from their mothers, and confidence from their fathers.  Not all of us have those blessings.  In a society where women are mean to each other, men treat women like playthings, and the media forces mixed messages down our throats, what are those girls supposed to do who have no role models at all?

This is why I write.  This is why I let my vulnerability out after years of holding back.  Maybe, just maybe, I can help one other woman realize she is worth so much more than her label, her view of herself, or what the world says about her.

So, I’ll leave you with this: my friend at work also told me there is a “lid to every kettle.”  She is probably right.  Whether or not I do meet my match one day, I will be fine- because I have the best partner of all- myself.