I am not lonely. Alone, yes, but not lonely. Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not conceited or shallow by any means. However, I know quite a few people I can call to fill the empty space in my bed, should I be so inclined. There are many boys who would be happy to park their Trojan horse in my driveway, if you catch my drift. That being said, this self-awareness is newfound. I can’t tell you how many nights I had to bargain with my drunk self, begging her not to pick up the phone and text my ex for a nightcap.
That was before I realized that my worth did not decrease or increase based on the amount of texts I had in my inbox after twelve AM. That was before I realized these “men” have no interest in spending the night, learning about my family, or what kind of car I drive. That was before I realized there’s a difference between being alone and being lonely. Lastly, that was before I learned to be okay with being alone.
The first time I fell “in love” I was twenty. Imagine going twenty years without tasting the most delicious fruit on Earth, until one day it’s given to you indefinitely. You wouldn’t want to go a second without it. I became accustomed to having someone by my side all the time, and I liked it. Twenty years of knowing how to live alone erased in just seconds. And when it ended, I couldn’t function. I didn’t know how to be Caitlin anymore. The cycle repeated itself, as it tends to when you have the wrong idea of what love is supposed to be like.
After many nights of flaking on plans, unanswered texts to friends, locked doors, drawn shades, and too much Ed Sheeran (although there really is no such thing), I realized I was no longer mourning a loss. Breakups, deaths, tragedies all happen. However, at some point when the clouds dissipate, misery becomes a choice. In the same way, while being alone is not always in our control, loneliness can be.
I refuse to be lonely. I will not push away those who do love me while wasting tears over those who can’t. I will continue to ignore those late-night texts from people who are genuinely nothing more than strangers. I’ve got mountains to climb, tests to take, flights to book, and burritos to eat. No emotion, no urge or desire is so great that I will lower myself to the likes of boys that don’t even like me. There is so much more to life than the awkwardness of flirting, mediocre sex, and double dates. I won’t sit around and wait for my life partner at 21 years old. If he’s anything like me, he’s probably out there pushing a pull door…he’ll be a while.