Yesterday afternoon I found myself in an apartment, by myself, in Chicago, surrounded by boxes and storage crates. My boyfriend had just left to drive back to Ohio after our ten minute hugging session and so not only was I “by myself,” I was just completely alone.
I found myself sobbing on the phone with my mother, who calmed me down with pet names and I love you’s and the promise to book a flight ticket to Tennessee for the upcoming weekend. One of the last things she said was, “Upasna, so many people are probably jealous of you. You have an internship, you’re in Chicago, you’ve got the opportunity to be in an apartment IN CHICAGO! Be excited!”
I wasn’t excited though, and I couldn’t care less about the people who were probably jealous of me (something I don’t know for a fact but may or may not be true). I was sad. I’d be going the whole summer without flying back home and seeing my family (until the phone call, of course), I’d be away from college – a place I had settled in quite comfortably at, I’d be away from my friends, and I’d be away from my boyfriend. These people and places had filled my heart so much and knowing that suddenly I’d be without it all felt inexplicably horrifying. I can’t find the right word to describe that kind of loneliness.
My mother had also told me that this was life, and that this is what it felt like to be an adult.
As a child and even as a teenager in high school, I would’ve been delighted to know that someday I would be in the situation I am currently in now. Chicago, apartment, internship, me. I would’ve been excited about cooking for myself, watching television whenever I wanted, dressing up for work, and just being able to call myself an adult. I was also under the impression I would be able to hang out with the people I loved whenever I wanted. I know that’s not the case now. I’m an adult, and so is everyone else in my life. Everyone is adult-ing at the same time, experiencing their own kind of loneliness. It seems unfair that we are all living adult lives and thus don’t have the time to be with the people we love any time we want.
I can now understand why it’s so hard for some people to go to college, to have a steady job, to live on their own in a beautiful city. The physicalness of it all is great and it sounds great and other people think it’s great but in your heart there is something missing, and the way your life is viewed by the outside world is the last thing on your mind because all you want to do is feel that sense of familiarity and comfort again in your life.
Maybe I’m just projecting.
I can now understand why people rather stay at home and work in their hometown, why people travel the world on a low-budget rather than have a steady job, why people start families young and live in the ‘burbs. The emotional aspects of life are so, so important and so hard to let go of. Knowing that you’ll have to do it eventually may drive you to avoid it overall.
Don’t get me wrong. I am so grateful to have an internship, to be living in the city, to actually live a very blessed life as an adult. But, I do not care what people think of these aspects of my life now – or any aspect for that matter – because in the end, the internship, the apartment, living in Chicago isn’t what is making me truly happy. It’s the people in my life who have motivated me and helped me and kept me alive to even be doing the aforementioned things. I’m happy to be have these opportunities because I am happy that there are people who have kept me stable and happy so I can use these opportunities.
To the outside world I may seem like a girl with the ultimate advantage of living the type of lifestyle people crave for and dream of. Maybe it’s because of social media, because of social pressures, because of whatever the hell. But to me, I am a girl working hard because if I don’t, I can’t survive as an adult. I’ve got to do this so I can be successful, even if it means feeling the temporary pain I’m feeling.
We tend to observe other people’s lives through rose-colored glasses and through the lens created by materialism and selectiveness. Chicago looks nice in Instagram photos. Small, white apartments look nice in Instagram photos. Being alone in Chicago in an apartment sounds nice on a Facebook status. However, I’m not experiencing it like that. I’m experiencing it in a way that’s showered with emotionality.
I thought about the adult life and the adult world and told myself that being alone would make me happy. Now that that time is finally here, I want nothing more than to feel at home again.