Monachopsis

Truth - Once you leave home for the first time, nothing is ever the same. The change that occurs after high school and during college truly is profound. In retrospect, each time I've left it's almost been longer and longer since I returned home. My tolerance for being away from the place where I feel most safe, comfortable, and loved has grown considerably and the lingering feeling that being anywhere else is wrong remains. I wonder if that little notion of uneasiness ever subsides. How do you make a new place home when all you already have monachopsis?
 
"Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone." Paul Tillich
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Monachopsis is defined as the subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place. For this new stage in my life, it has become even more relevant. I don't really know how to describe it. I can be somewhere and be pretty content where I am/who I am with and then suddenly take note of this miniscule pang of discomfort. I think it is always there but sometimes I don't notice it, whereas other times it is painfully apparent. As of late, I've been trying to figure out what it is and what it means. Is it because of my age and where I am in my life journey? Is it because of who I am and the society that I live in? Is it normal to feel this way or is an indication that sometime is wrong or missing from my life? So many questions from this one twinge that just doesn't seem to ever go away. What if I don't want it go away? Game-changer, plot-twist, curveball - now we're getting meta.

Just like I miss home dearly occasionally, what if that small feeling is my reminder to myself that there is no place like home. Not necessarily in the classic 1930s metaphorical allegories of the Great Depression present in the Wizard of Oz but something more sinister and self-sabotaging. Could this be a subconscious persistence in remaining young forever and under the care/charge of my parents? That is what home represents for me. This euphoric haven of luxury, love, and laughter. It's the place where I get to be my whole self and indulge in all the parts of me. It's where I feel free to take off all the other personas I don whether in public or this version of private that I currently reside with. It's the place where I am surrounded by people who think, speak, and most importantly look like me. The way I feel at home is a feeling that yet to be replicated for me anywhere else or with anyone else other than my immediate family. Could I be preventing myself from ever allowing myself to feel that way or to create "home" in different places and spaces, and with new people? I think in some ways yes, and in others no. My home will always this regent castle, complete with moat, coat of arms, and gorgeous portraits of yours truly. I know that eventually I'll be either in a place long enough to properly establish myself, or will have to learn to adapt to create home for me wherever I go. I also recognize monachopsis may be a lifelong self-diagnosis, but one that may not be so bad. Home can be wherever you make it, if you try hard enough.

Today one of my students asked me what adjusting to adulthood has been like and I think I gave him too real of a response. I told him that it was really just spending a lot of time alone, doing things for yourself, and learning to be self-sufficient but interdependent. It's about constantly building support systems while venturing out on your own daily. It's a perpetual journey of self-discovery. The best advice I could give (if it was being asked for) would be to learn to like yourself when you're by yourself. I spent a solid amount of time doing so in college and I couldn't have imagined how important that sentiment would be. If you don't like who you are when you're by you're in solitude, how can you expect anyone to like you're with them? I know so many young people, both in and out of college who can't seem to revel in being alone. They have this almost dependency on other people. They have a compulsive need to hang out, be in the vicinity of others, or be in constant contact. It's alarming, but very telling of our generation  and our incessant propensity for instant gratification. When was the last time you just sat in silence. I mean absolute, total, and utter silence. Everything was still except the gentle rise of your chest expanding and contracting with every breath, and the rhythmic beating of your heart. Peace, clarity, and serenity were about you - those moments are few and far between. There is something to be said though for those who are intentional in living in those moments, and thoroughly enjoying them. It's those that disregard the monachopsis.

It's uncanny how much more I like myself now that I spend more time with me. It may sound counterintuitive, but I spent so much time with others that I overlooked the importance of finding solace within myself. Graduate school, work, and living alone has brought me just that, whether I wanted it or not. If I'm not at work, at school, or with my students, I'm doing my own thing and enjoying it. I treat each day as an adventure. I plan what I'm going to do and where I am going to go, and just do it. I've learned so much about the world, and become more resourceful these past four months like no other time in my life. Take Saturday, I went to return a pair of shoes that didn't fit, mailed some care packages, and ventured to the car dealership to remedy the ominous tire pressure light conundrum. I was technically locked out of my parking lot and building, so I went to see the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. Going to the movie theater alone is when you know you've made some real progress; it's a serious commitment to your self-confidence. I came back and parallel parked like a pro and spent the rest of the day watching the cancelled comedy Cristela (it's actually super funny) and Resident Advisors (student affairs mimicked in the media #FTW). I did the same thing the next day in getting an ice scraper and groceries for the next couple of days from Target before retreating back to my place. It's a simple and yet impossibly complicated existence.
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What I know is that I'm no longer as scared as I used to be. I find beauty in the little things I see and do. I enjoy my time, even though I may not use it so wisely. Errands and chores take on a different meeting, and now I'm doing them for the benefit of myself. I have no one else to take care or clean up after me like always, but now my motivation to keep everything orderly, organized, and pristine is because it's what I want/need. I have no rules and all this freedom, and yet I know the parameters I set for myself to adhere to. I may still feel out of place with my monachopsis but I know the choices I make daily slowly but surely chip away at it. Adulthood truly is something else. X

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