I am chronically independent. As a consequence of my inherent stubbornness, I have floated through life feeling overwhelmingly alone. Few people ever tied me down to reality. Most often, I was just skimming the surface of actuality. Never daring to move past the superficial, for that was the source of pain, of hatred. There is nothing worth having in the grace of a relationship based solely on self-actualization. 

I hold great importance in longevity. I measure success through time and keep pride in all that withstands the passing of time. So when it comes to things or people I perceive as being temporary, I abandon commitment. If this is not something that will last, then why should I put the effort in now? This mindset evolved to what I can only describe as a double-edged sword. Yes, in some cases, I saved myself from the hurt of people who simply wished to use me for momentary gain. Yet, in others, I missed out on what could have developed into something long-term. Friendships, relationships, co-workers, I see it all the same. Everything in my life is framed through this image of permanence, never reality. 

The world simply does not function like I wish it would. I cannot pre-plan every step. There isn’t a way to control who will stay or who will go. For so long, I held contempt for the world itself. Control is all I sought after; how could that be so much to ask for? My eighteen-year-old self clung for dear life onto control. Transitioning to life on my own was not controllable. I resorted to sticking routines and schedules for myself to keep my days structured. This, of course, never helped with my perspective on relationships as if I couldn’t see someone as necessary enough to disrupt my schedule for success, I would let them go. I came to university from a life so full of people and memories to one that was barren and lonely. For the first time in my life, I was truly alone. My friends were building new lives, creating the dreams that we had long spoken about, and I felt stuck. Stuck to the past, to who I thought I needed to be. 

In a lot of ways, I still feel this stuckness. Yet, two years and an ongoing pandemic later, I have fallen in and out of these habits. Time has grown to be simultaneously meaningless and the absolute epitome of my life. Everything is the same, and yet everything is different. Time is moving, but I feel stagnant in its presence. I have been stuck in a cycle of clinging to the past only to forgo the moments of the present. It is a time marked by lost memories and false realities created by my inability to orient myself within the social world. 

The time between high school and “real life” had never felt permanent. It has always felt like some in-between state fuelled solely by what will come from these years of my life. Once this mindset translated into my everyday life, there was no escaping it. I was bound by beliefs of time and routine that would take over every aspect of my existence. 

Returning to campus this year, I found myself in a weary sense of disarray. I had been here so long ago, and having built a life, it felt odd to return to one so different. I was not the same person who left Kingston in March of 2020. I had grown, evolved. Yet, here I was, twenty instead of eighteen, and I found myself back in the same mindset I held then. As classes resumed, I found myself running into old friends from my first year. The strangest part of this was that they seemed genuinely interested in picking up right where we left off. It was never the awkward courtesy conversations I believed would happen. Instead, these short-lived relationships bound by simply sharing a class somehow endured. 

It was here I had come to realize that maybe, I had been wrong all along. Perhaps a friendship didn’t need to be all or nothing. Maybe there is more to life than fleeting, momentary successes. Maybe I am more than a routine; a perfectly etched-out version of a human being. There is a middle ground that exists between being best friends and acquaintances. But, unfortunately, I had spent so long denying myself these middle ground relationships, letting the memories that could have been simply slipping out of grasp. 

I credit my growth to a lot of things. Coming out of a year quarantined, I could have easily slipped back into my old ways. I could have lived a life alone. But, instead, I pushed my own boundaries and allowed for some spontaneity to come into my life. Forfeiting some of my independence, some of my stubbornness is precisely what is needed to live the life I had always let slip by. 

There was much to be learned in my loneliness, though. Time is no longer a mundanity. Friends are no longer the ones I see every day. Each moment now holds meaning, unlike anything I have experienced before. I understand I have put myself here in this isolated reality. I know that the fault does not lie in the hands of fate or the universe but my own. I am the reason behind my reality. However, I find comfort in knowing that I  have found a way to make peace with my own self-destruction through all the darkness. Perhaps, that peace will be all I gain. Not so much the memories or people that I had always imagined would be pinned to this time in my life, but rather the growth I did entirely on my own.


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