Tonight I went out with a 40- and 50-something group of women. One has been with her man for 32 years, one divorced, and one widowed. Great ladies, but I don’t want to be them.
I never want to be settled, but then find myself having to start dating again. It was like sitting through dinner and drinks at a horror show. These ladies have grown-ass kids. They live alone. They’re skinny and leathery. They wear the exact same clothes–a tanktop and shorts is their uniform in this humidity. They know all about some men. They have higher expectations and more demands. They aren’t playing around. I’m not sure they’re having fun–but they’re certainly not having any success.
I wasn’t ready to be thrust into that scene. They speak so unabashedly about dating dilemmas and how low-grade the men are. But why do they need the men? They have families, friends, and jobs. They keep busy. So why did the entire night revolve around their problems finding a guy? It’s an echo of the conversation they had 30 years ago when they first started dating. I’m really too young for this shit. I’m already worried about how to meet people at 24, I certainly don’t need to be scared about how it’s going to happen thousands of miles, plenty of years, and pounds of emotional baggage later.
I am spending my first Christmas alone. Who can be ready for that? No one, really, even if they are expecting it. I found out pretty early on that going home wasn’t terribly likely. Snowmaggedon was upon us again.
But Christmas alone, just isn’t Christmas. I went to Christmas Eve Mass instead of having it said in my living room. I had frozen food for lunch and dinner. I saw Sherlock Holmes. Alone. (Great movie, though. And I definitely think there will be enough interest for them to produce the sequel that they’ve already admitted wanting to make.) I completed my application to Washington State University. I talked to my parents. I watched the best James Bond movie ever.
Yep, pretty much feels like a normal day.
Except I don’t always get told I’m on the naughty list.
Loneliness is weird. You can feel lonely when you’re actually alone, in a busy place, or even with your closest friends. It certainly doesn’t discriminate the time or place. I feel personally, physically, and situationally lonely. Like, no one else can understand how scared I am that this GRE is going to be a failure. That I’m not going to get into grad school. That everything I worked hard for in college is going to be wasted. That I’m not as smart or talented as people seem to think I am. I’m terrified about money, the future, and jobs. I’ve started to slowly lose friends that I would give the world for, which makes me feel lonelier still.
But what I’m finding is that this is more or less the status quo for most female twenty-somethings (which you think I would have known, seeing as it is the baseline plot for 90% of chic lit). I guess it’s normal to be frustrated and feeling like nothing is in your control, but I hate it. I hate being that girl. The girly emotional girl. The scared girl. The unconfident and jaded girl. I’m not her, but I act like her sometimes. And I’m totally unnerved at the thought of things not improving. I can take little reassurance in the thought that I’m not alone. But I would almost rather I were, because it would be a lot more uplifting if I knew things were okay for other people.
You know what I realized last night? That my biggest fear (next to spiders, solely because they are a constant and tangible threat) is being alone. I mean, it’s not the number one priority on my mind–paying rent–but it’s there. And realizing that, is, well, I don’t actually know. But it is what it is.
When I interviewed him two years ago, Steven Ward told me that if I didn’t date anyone in college, I would be totally fucked for the rest of my life. At least I did one thing right.