August Reflections: On The Joy of Missing Out

I’ve never been good at going to the bathroom alone. I almost always ask to take a friend, for the comradery, for a whispering conversation. I thought it was a trait I’d give up by my 20s but the yearn still persists today.

I love company and closeness, I find myself craving it all the time. The need to be around and involved and next to someone I know.

It’s Summer and everyone is out, sweating, laughing, eating, gripping to our last long days and this feeling swells in my belly. The overwhelming need to be connected and in community all the time. Often it feels like everything is happening all at once–a party, a dinner, a stroll– I want to be a part of it all. I guess I identify as an extrovert but I’m also a person who gets nervous thinking about all the life that might happen when I’m not there. 

It feels silly to type out, juvenile maybe. Because sometimes I can be my best self when I’m alone. Alone alone. Not crutched to my phone, or using a book I haven’t read as a prop or a guard, but sitting with myself and my big silly feelings on the earth that gave birth to me. And in those rare moments awarded to me or chosen by me, I start to think how much of this life I’m missing out on: feet planted to the ground, thoughts stirring, aware of my body and who I might be when I’m by myself. 

And then the wave comes rushing back in, wondering who is where, will I be missed, and all the things happening without me. 

I tend to operate under the guise that the best experiences are ones shared. And while some are, being in constant community with others (both IRL and virtually) is staggering. 

It’s not that I don’t occasionally crave solitude, I have a hard time putting the action into place. I deprioritize my ‘me-time’, pushing back calendar dates and mental reminders that it’s high time I hit do not disturb. 

I’m not sure I’ll ever be good at eating alone, arriving too early, or waiting for a friend who’s running late. But I’m trying to have an easier time tapping out because after a certain point my presence becomes a performance – serving an audience of people at a party, at a dinner, on a stroll. And maybe it starts with planting my feet on the earth more or finally reading that book that is not a prop, and returning to myself all the promised hours of alone time. Yes, even in the Summer when it feels like everyone is out and everything is happening all at once. 

I wish I had a neat conclusion to draw these ramblings to. I wish I had better things to say, something inspirational enough to make someone write it down, remember it, save it for later. But no, all I have are these quips and musings about my inability to be alone, and both the vital and difficult feelings community can bring. 

I don’t have a solid answer, advice, or any kind of enlightenment (I’m a child of the internet age!). I just have a feeling to share; a couple hundred words, and a bit of hope that these pockets of time we can give to ourselves will amount to some kind of growth, to something good.