It sounds like the set up for a bad joke: How long does it take for an introvert to realize she’s lonely? The answer’s not really funny, though. In my case, it was years.
To be fair to myself, it came on slowly. First I moved out of the house I shared with two other media-savvy, scholarly girls who supportively fed my fangirlishness. Then, after I moved to a literal island and in with my partner, I was dopily, happily cohabitating and fell out of all my exercise and writing routines. Eventually I noticed the island thing was a hangup to seeing people I used to interact with daily—or weekly, or monthly—but I had a healthy crew of online friends and didn’t feel disconnected. It was around that time the fandom sea change from LJ/DW to Tumblr happened, though, and—reticent to share as much of myself as I had been on LJ/DW on Tumblr—I stopped writing up meta, or blogging much at all, because I got scared to share a public opinion. I lost touch with a lot of my online network. Writer’s block hit sometime in 2013 and my fic productivity still hasn’t recovered. Then 2014 happened, bringing with it several weird injuries and illnesses, interpersonal drama, unexpected job stress, and overtime work. And somewhere in the middle of that mess, just a couple months ago, the realization dropped heavy and sad like a sack of flour: I’m lonely.
The reason 2014 felt so unceasingly, foolishly hard and the reason I felt like there was no escape from it was because I literally didn’t have one. It was just me, myself, and my problems. There wasn’t time, it seemed, for anything else. There was too much distance between me and the people and things I loved and relied on; it was too much work to close the gap. Easier, better, to keep my head down and push on through. I’m a pretty self-sufficient girl and proud of it (so proud of it I had to mention it, had to defend myself just now from the mere possibility anybody might’ve just tried to write me off as I’m weak or needy, because heaven forbid I might not be able to bear my own load, or admit to needing assistance). But in this case, my self-sufficiency and my pride worked against me, made me take longer to see how I had been—how I am—holding myself back.
I feel like this is my AA moment—Hi, my name is Shannon, and I’m a recovering overachiever and silent sufferer. (Feel free to chime in: “Hi, Shannon.”)
So. I now understand (or maybe just finally remember) that I need an outlet and I need people—voices, friends, new thoughts, sounding boards, outside inspiration—and that’s okay. And to gain those things, I have to let myself have them, I have to make the time and the space to allow them in. Which brings me to why I’m here, updating a years-old, near-abandoned blog.
My hope is that this will become my new outlet, my new dumping ground for half- and maybe someday even fully formed thoughts about media and fic and fandom and sometimes life. I don’t plan to sit around and whine, though I also won’t promise that won’t happen on occasion. That’s not what I mean by needing an outlet. Rather, I need a dedicated place to dedicate myself to, a place to organize thoughts, a place that feels safe, or at least a step removed from the worst of internet scrutiny. A room of one’s own, you might say.
That said, I don’t expect a bumper crop of fresh comments or instafriend engagement on WordPress. I don’t expect to solve my loneliness or become internet famous. But I can dedicate myself to writing again. I can engage with me. I can stop feeling like I’m wasting my brain. I don’t promise the results will be pretty or ingenious (though I’d like to think I’ll always get a point or two for wit). But here, I hope, I can close the distance and connect again.