I never thought I’d become one of those people who get itchy when their phone doesn’t plonk with a message notification often enough. I’m largely a loner, both in person and online so I’ve never really cared whether I was talking to enough people, whether that meant I was part of a chat thread or keeping a texting conversation going.
But in the last year I think I’ve become way more aware of the silence of my phone than I would like.
Part of that is just because I’ve been really taking the time to analyze my relationships or lack thereof in the last year. Part of it is because I’ve increased my online presence and have gotten used to a certain amount of pings and dings coming from my phone. (That probably says something about my generation, but that’s another topic entirely.)
A sort of static has formed in my brain. A creeping, hovering sort of white noise that throws a pall over all my interactions. I haven’t exactly been the most mental/emotionally healthy these past several months. This constant hum, nagging in the background of all my thoughts, taunts me on the regular basis, and when phone silence ensues it sometimes can reach a fever pitch.
It’s not an actual audible sound.
I’ll just notice “Huh, I haven’t gotten a reply on a thread or received a message from so and so in a while,” and the static rises from its subconscious slumber.
“Huh, there’s this sort of hollow feeling in my chest I can’t find the name for.”
I’ve been working out my relationships with people and trying to decide how much is too much interaction, and more importantly in my case, how little is not enough. For most of my life this hasn’t been much of a concern, but I guess I’ve reached quarter life crisis and am re-evaluating my path in life. Hardly anybody ever talks about the dissonance that comes in your early to mid-twenties where you’re no longer a goofy college kid so you can’t act out in irresponsible ways, but you don’t quite feel like an adult either, so you feel like a fraud donning your shiny suit to work.
“Hahaha, everyone. Not to worry. I have my adult name-tag on, therefore I must know what I’m doing…mustn’t I? I mean, that’s how it works, right? Guys?…”
Everyone is obsessed with adolescence and how hard the poor teenagers have it because they suddenly want to nail everything that moves. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. How about us poor saps, who maybe have our degrees, and if we’re lucky a job to match, but we’ve been stuck in our books or between someone’s bosoms so long we forgot to learn how to actually connect with people? You know, like on an actual meaningful level.
Not just high-fiving about the killer time we had at the bar last night, or feigning pleasant small talk whilst casting lusty glances at each other’s resumes.
If you’re lucky you come out of college with a few lifelong friends and maybe even a significant other. But even then, things happen, people move away. And if you’re not lucky, well, good luck with that one buddy. Now you have to go about the sticky business of creating a new inner circle of friends from scratch. It’s like you’re neither here nor there. You’re not really so connected to your family anymore because you’re supposed to be your own person by now. But you don’t really have time and/or energy to go socialize after work so you get that pack animal quality time in either.
Externally, I’m quite successful. I’ve hit all the major milestones when it comes to education and career. But internally, it’s a bit of a wasteland. Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. I’m very spiritually grounded and I have a great relationship with my family so those are solid things. However, life in your twenties makes you come face to face with your interpersonal skills like nothing else. Don’t get me wrong, I’m functional. My work relationships are cordial, my volunteer connections friendly, but a depth of connection is lacking that suddenly feels very pressing.
Some people choose to worry about finding a significant other right away. They immediately start to preen and paint their feathers to try and snag the first sucker that comes along. The goal is to convince them to spend inordinate amounts of time with them, if not the rest of their lives. Me, I’m just trying to figure out humans in general.
It seems there are few people worth really connecting with, or at least that they’re really hard to find. I’d like my intimate circle of friends to do some expanding, but people can be really shallow and there’s not a large pool to pick and choose from. I have a feeling a lot of the worthwhile people are busy nursing their own static, so we keep missing each other.
You have to be so intentional at this point in life if you want to forge new relationships, because if you don’t get lucky at work, you have to plan excursions where you’ll run into new people. Most times I’d rather stay at home and read, firmly glued to a cup of hot cocoa. I guess I’m being an idiot because I want to have my cake and eat it too (while sipping hot cocoa).
I need people in order to feel fulfilled in life, but I’d really rather do without them if I could help it. They come along with so many disappointments and unnecessary detours.
So much effort is required, so much re-positioning, so much pain.
I’m told it’s worth it.
Nah, actually, I’m bluffing. I know from experience it’s worth it too. It’s just hard to work up the courage to get on the confounded phone.
But my phone won’t start pinging on it’s own, now will it?