I am making progress.
Yesterday, I had lunch for the first time with people from my program. It is halfway through the semester. There are two reasons for this. 1) Thursdays are the only day of the week where I have more than one class, therefore needing to eat lunch instead of heading home, and 2) I have found it far more comforting to stay by myself than to wander outside of my own protection and make friends.
The second statement is a lie.
Comforting is certainly the wrong term. I hate being alone. Being alone, in my head, is life-sucking. I mean, I can do it. I can walk through the hallways alone, my head held high. But I can feel the life seeping out of me. And yet, for some reason I convince myself to protect my heart.
Let them think you’re tough, not alone. That you’re smart, not afraid.
There are a thousand things I convince myself of, and most of the time I never understand why all of these things are hurting me.
College is far different than high school. To me, it’s not about friends. I drive to school, attend my classes, complete my assignments, sometimes study for midterms, go to work, go to church, make art for my art show, hold my nephew, and invest in the people who have been in my life for awhile. School and my real, actual life felt like two separate entities.
“I’m not there to make friends,” I jokingly told people. “I’m such a keener. I only care about the school work.”
Liar, liar. No one can actually only care about writing papers. There has to be some part, even if it’s barely noticeable, that cares about human connection. This who we are as humans. We are meant to be connected, meant to share our joys and our losses, perhaps sometimes deeper with others, but we are meant to connect nonetheless.
So when a few of the people from my program suggested I eat lunch with them yesterday, I almost said no. I had been alone for a long time; I thought that’s what college was to me. I thought college was merely academic, with human interaction staying fairly minimal.
Instead, I looked at them. I said yes.
This, of course, was not a big deal to them. But as we walked, I realized I was no longer walking alone. I became my own inner cheerleader: you are doing this! You are eating with people! You are making progress! Look at you go, you progressive girl.
I called Sarah last night and said, “I had lunch with people today. This is tangible progress. I honestly didn’t think I wanted to be around people, but I had lunch with real humans today and I am making such progress.”
She said, “Yes you are. And I am so proud of you.”
This is forward movement, this is courage, this is me leaping off cliffs —
I am deeply, and intimately, a work in progress.