After spending a weekend talking and laughing with people I’ve known since elementary school, I’ve been pondering how needs change.
Ten years ago I graduated from high school, desperate to leave my hometown behind. I needed to leave the places that reminded me of years of bullying, emotional breakdown, and the immense academic and athletic pressure I felt there. I wanted to go somewhere new and redefine myself completely. I didn’t want to be known as the valedictorian cross country runner anymore. I just wanted to be me.
The thing I didn’t realize at eighteen was that I have always been me. Moving several states away didn’t change the perfectionism that fueled my depression. It didn’t change the fact that eventually, I would have to confront the darker parts of myself and acknowledge that the things that damaged me in high school wouldn’t go away until I dealt with the emotions behind them.
And what I’m just now realizing is that there were people in high school that felt the same way I did. We were all just teenagers struggling to define ourselves and fit in whatever mis-shapen space we could find. And the biggest thing I realized this last weekend was that those dark feelings of high school aren’t actually connected with my peers, and they’re certainly not connected with my friends. In the stupidity of my teenage self, I left it all behind, and I’m only now realizing what I’ve been missing.
A few hours later…
I just spent the last twenty-three minutes sitting in my car with the garage door open not moving, just thinking about loss and grief and loneliness–not comfortable feelings. I’m feeling the loss of my community today, and it hurts so much.
As long as I stay busy, I don’t really have to think about it. I’ve gotten used to being alone here. But then I have moments like last weekend when I am with people I don’t have to hide from. People I can tell anyone to, who’ve known me since elementary school, who accept me entirely despite our differences in opinion–and coming home just sucks. I don’t want to be here, but I can’t really leave. I find myself checking e-mail and facebook every ten minutes, looking for some artificial connection that doesn’t really feed this deep-seated need to be with people.
And I feel trapped.
Damn that default feeling.