I look around at the dinner table, and my college buddies are all sharing stories. I sip my drink at the bar, while I bob my head and my girls twirl around me. I nod along, saying “yaaas” and “totally”, during another long distance phone call. I close my eyes, for just a few seconds more than a blink, to recuperate from the chaos.
Sometimes I can’t be the person everyone needs. It gets exhausting to hold the smile on my face. But I would rather be emotionally tired than have heard a slew of “what’s wrong?” and “please come” and “are you okay?” sentiments. When the focus turns to me at a gathering, I say “everything’s good”, because it is. I have no major complaints. Yet, I still get questioned as if I should have some major moment that needs discussing. As if I should share all things that happen in my life.
I grew up experiencing some dark times. I made it out on the other side and I am who I am because of that. But a lot of my friends have no knowledge of my childhood or tween years and I like to keep it that way. These secrets and the silence that surrounds them has it advantages, in my opinion. I am not forced to talk about my feelings or about my skeletons or drudge up old memories that cause too much pain. When I retreat into the silence, no one can save me because nobody knows the thoughts running around my head.
And I don’t want to be saved.
I like having my time, alone in my head, and that seems to be what no one understands. I cannot always pinpoint a moment or a source of my despondence and when asked why I’m distant, I don’t feel comfortable discussing it because I really couldn’t explain where my mind just went.
For a girl like me, a girl who always has plans, that has friends across states, that has friends who expect things of her, silence is an awful place to feel comfortable in.
I understand that no one can be the happy girl, or the life of the party 24/7. Yet, I still feel that is what is expected of me. Most days I want to sit in my bed with a book or lay in the sun with music flooding the noise of the world out. But I always give in when asked if I’m free to talk or say yes to any outing regardless of how I am feeling. There is a 90% chance that if you were ever in my life, I always answered your call and you could of course, totally come over. Maybe I was just raised to be too nice. I give instead of take and try my very best to never be rude and dismissive.
What I wish people would realize is that if I’m not smiling, nothing has to be wrong. Smiling actually gives you wrinkles so, really, I’m just working on preventive care for my aging skin. And there are times when I just don’t feel like talking AND THAT’S OK. It does not mean I am mad; it means I am relaxed or pensive.
I love each of my friends but I don’t think we need a big rendezvous or a life-changing chat whenever we hang out. Sometimes I feel alone amongst the people around me, and I wish that we could just simply, be. I seem to have dug myself in a hole where existing isn’t enough. I feel that I created a second version of myself over the years while I’ve been too accommodating.
Gwen 2.0 is the glue keeping everyone together and everyone laughing. She is sharing anecdotes and feelings that she didn’t even know she had because she always must be sharing to make sure the others are comfortable sharing when they need to. She can’t be quiet because quiet is bad. She is ready at the drop of a hat to console a friend regardless of her sleep or work or personal life at home. She is confident they would do the same for her. She looks around and convinces herself they would.
But I don’t really know if that’s the case.