On the inside of all the stalls in my hall bathroom, there are flyers from the counseling center about “Transitions”, and every time I’m in there I diligently try to make sense of them. There are, apparently, three stages to a transition: Endings, a neutral stage, and New Beginnings. Basically, you feel sad, you transition, you feel happy.
Well, not me. I felt sad, I felt happy, then I was…lonely. And I’ve found that’s a terrible thing to admit. When a friend asks what’s wrong when I’m crying, (because, of course, I have been crying…) I cannot say, “I’m strangely, desperately lonely late at night. I thought there would be people like me at college, and there aren’t. I miss being around people who I don’t have to explain myself to, and on top of that, two of the people who know me best are overseas, and I can’t call them like I want to every other second! That’s all…”
It sounds like such an accusation, and it’s a little overwhelming. I don’t know exactly how I got it into my head that Grove would be full of little personality twins, but it’s not. It is populated with happy, easily stressed people who like to abbreviate their words and have dance parties. They remind me of the people I’ve known all my life. They are lovely and I should be thankful, but I wonder. Where are the rest of the kids who care more about books than about grades, who don’t mind hard teachers if only they are learning, who only become more stubborn with extra pressure, and who still believe their lives can be a storybook? I thought I would find them here, but I haven’t. They do exist, don’t they? I suppose I am unique, but please, God, not that unique!
Of course, I am being overdramatic. I do have friends here, good friends, even a few dear ones. I think my sudden desire to be a type, to have those like myself, who know my secrets without being told, has just happened to coincide awkwardly with my first semester of college. But that rationalization unfortunately doesn’t really make me feel better. Late at night, I am still just me in my little box of me-ness, which is tiresome and sometimes frightening after eighteen years.
So, anyway, that is how I have been feeling. Yesterday I went to Discipleship Group and had myself a lovely little breakdown. I had a talk with my leader, and told her most all of it, I think, and a few other things about my state of mind which I am too ashamed to share with cyberspace. Not that she was anything less than kind, but I came out of that conversation with the distinct remembrance that I am very, very self-absorbed. Why do I feel that I must find people like myself? Oh…probably because I think I’m pretty great. Ya think, Alice?
And then, last night I had hall bible study, and a friend of my RA’s read a quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory, which I desperately wish I had on me, and cannot find in its entirety anywhere on the dumb internet, but here is part of it: “At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of the morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.” I was momentarily comforted with the thought that on the other side of that door I would be sure to meet legions of people like myself, and the stuffy little box of Alice would be busted up and forgotten. Everyone or most everyone, anyway, would be like me!
Then, for the first time in…well, eras, really, Truth hijacked my thought process. Everyone would be like me, but only in the ways in which I was like Christ. Anything in me which was not a reflection of him would be lost, burned away, drowned in death’s great river. I, in myself, am not worth being. Why am I desiring to find Alice in others when I should be looking for Christ? Lewis again, in The Problem of Pain, each “soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance…” He is there for the finding. Why am I only trying to learn about myself from others, when I am surrounded by those who have the image of the God of the universe painted in relief in their very souls?
So, I am not only self-absorbed, I am self-obsessed. I learned at an early age that the world at large does not revolve around me, but now, at eighteen, I am finally learning that neither can I revolve around myself. Certainly, I was not created to be lonely and miserable, but neither was I created to be the silly, vain creature I am at present. My Lord loves me enough to have bigger plans. He must increase, but I must decrease. Otherwise, when I get to the door Lewis speaks of, I may not even find it appealing, and that would be very truly tragic, for that door, and what lies beyond, are precisely was I was created for.
I miss you! (and your tearful self!!)
Thank you for letting me have a glimpse at your heart.
I remember being very lonely at night. Do you find that is when you feel most lonely?
If I am unhappy, it is night. I’m not a night person 🙂
It is true. She only ever calls crying at night.
😉 love you dearest.
I know what you mean…we all want to find kindred spirits, people who think and act like we do. But it’s more important for my identity to be in Christ than in myself–I mean, that identity should come first. easier said than done, though. I love these verses from 1 John:
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
Alice, your writing is beautiful. I appreciate your self-reflection and can relate in many ways. You are not alone here, or anywhere really. There is always One right beside you. Oh, and I’m right beside you too. Literally, right next door. Stop by anytime.
Oh do I know how you feel… at least in the part about realizing I am too self-focused. It’s too late for me to fully develop this but I will soon be having very long late night chats with you. BECAUSE NEXT FRIDAY WE ARE HAVING A SLEEPOVER! And even if I have to get up insanely early to go to work, it will be worth it. And I will stay awake. And I got my ticket for Saturday night.
Random thought: I may not have found people that I can yet call my kindred spirits, but apparently I am just like this girl two of my good friends no. It’s a bit ridiculous. I love you lots!
“As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.”(Proverbs 27:19)
It’s true that you may never meet anyone “like yourself” until you’re on the other side of that door…but I still believe that you will find a reflection of yourself in someone, somewhere, one of these days, and I will pray that God grants you that gift on earth : ]