No one tells you how lonely the city gets in the summer time. And last summer was really the first time in my life that I was by myself. I’ve always been someone who was constantly surrounded by people, partially because I grew up with the mentality that the trick to being alone was to, ironically enough, make sure you never were. Being surrounded by others was the only option I ever had because I made it that way.
I’m not an only child, and for years I was someone who shared a room/clothes/shoes/and anything and everything with someone else. When I moved to college, I had a roommate and after that, went on to become a Resident Assistant (RA) for college freshmen, which let me tell you, was the epitome of never being alone. I was in charge of 45 girls. Yes, forty-five. So I was always accessible. I was someone that people needed and could turn to at any given moment of time. I was also in a sorority. I was involved in school clubs and had multiple jobs. Needless to say, I didn’t know how to be alone and the only time I was ever truly alone was when I turned off the lights and went to bed.
Then, all those things and people were on halt. It was summer. I had me, myself, and I for the next three months, and I was terrified of finding out whether or not one really is the loneliest number of them all.
Well, it can be.
I feel like I need to disclose something about a part of me in order for the rest of this story to really make sense: To clarify, it’s not being on my own that scares me. What scares me is finally having someone, being comfortable with them, and then that person changing their mind. If someone is going to be in my life, I hope they don’t come on in, get my spiel and the Instagram picture, just to turn around and walk out. I want someone for the long run, not just the half-time show. And I like to think that if involved with the right person, I’d be willing to do just about anything for them to stay.
So it was supposed to be just another night in the middle of summer. I had been “talking” to this guy, if you could even call it that. I wouldn’t even be able to tell you his middle name, or at the very least, his favorite color. I didn’t know what I wanted from him, if anything at all. But in that vulnerable state of mind, I wanted to play around with the idea of wanting something from and with him.
So he came over. It was past midnight. What should I have really expected, right? We exchanged small talk lasting no more than three back and forth comments about little to nothing. Before I knew it, he was on my bed… with me; there we were. I could feel his breath on me. Is this what I wanted? Some sort of intimacy from someone who’s practically a stranger? I wasn’t sure.
Then he asked me to do something I automatically had no desire to do whatsoever. I said I had never done what he’d requested of me, and that tonight was not the night I was ready to change that. He responded with something along the lines of, “It’s easy, it’s nothing. It’ll be quick and done before you know it.”
But it wasn’t easy, because it’s still something I’m not over, making it much more than nothing. It wasn’t quick because it’s something that, six months later, still stuck to me. How could that possibly be something I’m done with, if that memory continues to haunt me half a year later? Anything other than yes is no, and the minute I felt even a little hesitant should have been the green light for him to leave.
Ten minutes later
too late, I said no (and meant it)… eventually.
But there is still that part of me that didn’t say no right away. The part of me that considered for a hot second consenting to something I already knew would not make me feel even remotely comfortable.
It was in that moment that I had never hated myself more in my entire life. I had never felt uglier. But I thought having this guy over would make me feel some type of way, and he certainly had that effect but for the worse. Because here I was: wanted, but wanted for something I didn’t want anything to do with. So just like that, I changed my mind about him, which people are allowed to do, but I doubted myself for that and even felt a little guilty. But wait a minute, he was the one who’d pushed me. So why on Earth should I feel like I’m in the wrong?
It was 2 in the morning. It took some “convincing,” but once he got out of my bed, he was gone once and for all.
Back to going to bed by myself.
Yet not only did I have to convince him to leave, I had to convince myself that it was what I wanted all along.
Although I have not spoken to him since, and he eventually left, that little episode still hasn’t. I didn’t immediately stand up for what I believed. That takes a lot coming from someone as stubborn as me. And whenever I go back to that moment, I ask myself why I was so scared to just say no. Was it really just guilt?
But what I’ve come to realize is that even if that is all that it really was, there’s absolutely nothing to feel guilty for. Because saying no is not necessarily a form of rejection, but rather a way for us to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in—a concept we should (never almost) do, but always do. Every time.