“Soon the waves and I found the rolling tide
Soon the waves and I found the rip tide
This is the house where I
I feel alone
Feel alone now”
“Riptide” by Beirut
Sometimes, the world is loud. It’s chaotic and noisy. It’s overpowering. Everyone demands something of you, expects you to act in certain ways at certain times. Responsibilities. Politics. An endless array of verbiage thrown at you, screaming for your attention.
In the midst of this, life happens. We meet new people. We fall in love. We laugh, scream, cry. We can’t stop it, no matter how much we may want to. Everything continues to turn. Sometimes, it changes. For the better. For the worst. We just go along for the ride, twisting our bodies to match the pace of the universe.
Generally, I love this. I thrive when I’m out in society, meeting people and sharing ideas, sharing knowledge. It gives me a chance to see different cultures, learn things I would never learn on my own. My observations, in some cases, turn to fiction fodder. I tuck away nervous ticks and catch phrases for later use. I categorise all the different ways a person can tilt their head in response to a question, never having to utter a sound.
I share experiences, thus bonding myself to other people and places. It’s great. What once used to overwhelm me, now fills me with a certain sense of peace, of continuity.
Sometimes, though, I need to be alone. To lock myself away for a few hours and just breathe. To erect a wall to hide behind just until I’m ready to step outside. The constant chatter turns to a steady buzz in my eardrums, infecting everything I say or do. So, I take a step back. I submerge myself, letting everything wash over me until I feel whole again. Until I feel cleansed.
Some people view the world in black and white. In rights and wrongs. In extroversion or introversion. The grey area, the blur, is inconceivable. It makes no sense that someone might both simultaneously love being part of a community and also love being alone. There’s a time and a place for everything, I say.
In my opinion, living in both spheres changes your worldview. It makes you accept different interpretations and perceptions. It demands a balance, though. Demands that the participant knows when to rush ahead and when to take it slow. Because, sometimes, everything hits you at once. It’s easier to forget to recharge when life is happening all around you, exalting when you participate in it. Then there’s sweaty hands, closed-off throats, an inability to carry conversation.
I’ve learned to live in a state of balance. I know, mostly, when I have to take a free day. I know when I must stop and sit. Sometimes, it means saying no to activities that I would love. It means having to put off seeing people. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having to delay plans in order to give yourself some free time.
But, it gets harder to justify it when you know you’re leaving in less than two months. It gets harder to say no. Because you want to spend time with everyone, do everything, before you leave. You want to make enough memories to last you until the next time you see the people you love.
I haven’t had to say no yet. I wonder when I will. I wonder if I’ll remember that I need days off. I need days alone. I also wonder where my state of balance will go once I start graduate school. I’m not sure how difficult or easy it will be to stay the same. Or if I’ll even want to.