On Coming Out From My Self-Imposed Exile

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Summer is coming to a close. Well, not the season exactly. It never really gets any cooler in my part of the world. I faintly recall it has something to do with being situated near the equator. Geography overwhelmed me very much – to be honest – not in an entirely positive sense.

I had decided that this was going to be a season of change. A few months of my life without any kind of pressure to be anywhere, have things to do, deadlines to meet, people to annoy or people to avoid. I also think it had been way too long since I last got so much time for myself and I had it all chalked out what I would do with it when it was at my disposal.

Looking back now, all those things that I intended to do with my free time mainly involved me never stepping out of my room. The idea was to limit human contact but try not to isolate myself completely as that is never a good thing and past experiences have taught great lessons that I’d rather not get into.

I think time and again I have argued with myself what type of a person I am when it comes to social interactions. I still don’t know if I’m entirely sure. The introvert-extrovert debate is really exhausting for people nowadays so they made a middle category; ambiverts. I am already an ‘ambi’ of another kind and that’s enough for me, I guess.

The days raced into weeks and the weeks transformed into fortnights and months and no surprises there, time passed. Looking back, I set out and did everything I intended to in some measure or the other. I wrote on my blog. I wrote elsewhere. I wrote for myself. I wrote a special birthday email. I read more books than I have in the past whole year. I voraciously read books on my phone, too. The desire to grasp and inhabit fictional stories was insatiable and I never felt alone. Not for a moment.

But then, as is the case with all good things, you know it can’t last forever. I recently read Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry and thought about a side-character in the book named Martin, who suffered from a severe case of OCD. He had all his windows taped with newspaper, all loose items in his house wrapped in plastic and everything set out to be in a particular way according to some inexplicable compulsive logic, as is always the case with such persons. At one point, Martin’s condition got so bad that he couldn’t step out of his house at all. He could barely stand ten minutes in front of his door before his mind mercilessly questioned his intentions of going out into the world where anything could happen to anyone. It’s funny that among all the other interesting and more important characters in the book, Martin was the one I most identified with and not because it had me thinking that I was probably suffering from anything psychological but because I knew that my summer of solitude was coming to an end. Just like Martin, I, too would be standing on that threshold of my door, wondering how I’m supposed to go out and do anything when all I needed was the safety and joy of my own company.

I began to feel that Martin wasn’t afraid of going out. He was afraid of going out and discovering that he was all alone in the way he felt. It made no sense that his wife, Marijke left him because she couldn’t deal with his habits. If he was that perturbed by her absence, Martin would’ve gone out sooner to bring back the love of his life. He did, eventually. But sometimes people do things not because they are entirely sure that’s what they want, they think that their actions will someday embody who they are and so they do those things, anyway, half-heartedly at best, against their own will.

What I’m saying is, I went out today finally. I saw trees with leaves on them and trees that provided shade on stone pavements. I saw people with faces that looked like faces and I saw the cars and buses that I hear honking all day in my room and when I looked down I saw my own two feet, walking and not missing a single step. Everything felt somewhat normal, even familiar.

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5 responses

  1. Then there’s that, at least.

    Where do you get your energy from? What charges you up and gets you buzzy? People? Or alone time?

    I always thought I was an introvert but really I had just been a bit crushed by life. This internet thing is *perfect* for the extrovert whose esteem is rather wanting.

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    1. I’m not sure, Lizzie. I’ve seemingly been at the extremes of both. At one point I was a total extrovert and then I retreated into my shell gradually. Now I don’t prefer to be so straightforward right off the bat. Then again, sometimes I surprise myself, even now.

      Oh, believe me the Internet thing works for me pretty well. That is mostly what keeps me sane, I daresay.

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      1. Nothing like a good dollop of hardwired interaction to keep the soul going. And in the end, does it matter? You stayed in – it was okay. You went out – it was okay.

        I think you’ll be alright (or at least somewhere on the bell-curve of same)

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        1. You’re right. I’m getting better and I have a feeling writing that out helped a great deal.

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          1. And once again, writing proves to be catharsis. Thank goodness we have it! I wonder what illiterate people do!!!

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