If my life had a theme…

Photo by Peter Heilman via FlickrI recently read a blog by one personal growth guru or another about how each of us has a “theme” in our lives. Perhaps if we have more to learn (or maybe it’s just if we were cursed with a particularly challenging life) then we have more than one “theme.” These themes will show up in various situations until we have successfully learned the lesson. 

I knew in an instant what my theme was: loneliness. Apparently I haven’t passed the test, because this is something that’s lurked in my periphery for years.

There have been times when I thought that I had tamed the beast — formulating umpteen lists about why being alone was actually rad and creating new mantras that said, in so many words, “I am enough.” 

Yet, it continues to reappear like one of those spiders that’s been smashed by a shoe, swatted with a newspaper, and sprayed with Lysol — but still manages to scamper across the floor unscathed. 

I hate loneliness just about as much as I hate spiders. 

The truth is, I’ve deliberately chosen situations that come with a side effect of loneliness — not because I have some sick need to make myself miserable, but because each of those choices were the best thing for me at the time.

In high school I opted to leave what was familiar, for a slightly less “normal” situation: homeschooling by myself in the morning, then heading off to my local high school in the afternoon — a school where I knew maybe two people.

In college I said “hell no” to dorm life and opted for a commuter school instead. (Making friends is a bit harder when a good portion of your classes are with the 40+ crowd.)

After college I decided I wanted to create my own schedule and thus opted to call myself boss and work from home.

Add to that a long-term relationship with a military man turned overseas contractor and you have one huge life recipe for loneliness.

I’ve always had friends — good, lifelong friends — but these individual ties seem to connect me to people who do have a “community.” I don’t think I’ve ever fully felt like I’m apart of something larger, a group that would say that I belong.

In the past, this thought led me to experience some pretty dark patches in my generally sunny life. Now I simply see it as an observation — an invitation to welcome change and stop seeing this as my “story.” After all, I’d rather say “I sometimes experience loneliness,” than “I’m a lonely person.” 

There’s much snazzier adjectives I’d like to have describe me. 

Maybe it’s not an “aha” moment that we need to stop our “themes” from reappearing, maybe it’s just the ability to recognize them for what they are and acknowledge that they’re there to serve as a reminder. A reminder to tweak our thoughts and our actions so that we do get the outcome we desire.

Our outside circumstances stem from our internal experiences — so using what’s happening “out there” as proof that we are right in our feelings is actually looking at the outcome and saying that it caused the steps leading up to it.

It just doesn’t make any sense. 

I’ve created this feeling of loneliness, not by choosing the wrong place to live or people to be friends with, but by selecting that “loneliness” as my reality — no matter the situation I’m in.

What’s your reoccurring theme?


10 responses

  1. my theme is “disappointment”. i constantly felt i was being a disappointment to others and so i keep over achieving to avoid the feeling. and in the end, i was living my life for others. time to change. in the process of changing…

  2. I think mine might be something like “attack and retreat.” I think I have a pattern of getting all settled into my life, getting comfortable, and then after a lengthy internal battle over facing whatever new/different/scary challenge is next on my list, I just throw myself into the unknown again in a way that probably looks really spontaneous to people from the outside. haha. I don’t know if you can call that a theme, really.

    Anyway, great, thoughtful (and thought-provoking) post!

  3. I can identify with you. I also said “hell no” to dorming in college. Commuting sure did make it a bit harder to maintain relationships with classmates. Come to think of it, I don’t think I went to many college events.

  4. my theme is defectiveness – never feeling good enough for myself or for others. In turn never being my true self. Currently in the process of self-discovery, assurance, and awareness… the road is long yet so worth it!!
    P.S. I love your blog esp ‘7 Lessons from a Broken Heart’ – speaks volumes to me – and bizarely very similar to my own experience within the past year.

  5. My theme seems to be “Got a great idea for a business” tonight then next morning
    “it isn’t worth pursuing cuz I’ll screw it up and fail anyway”. I’m learning to appreciate my ideas and realize I can do many things and one idea doesn’t have to be the perfect one. As Barbara Sher pointed out in her book Refuse to Choose you can have many businesses or have a “good enough” job or business that allows you to pursue your many interests. I’m a Scanner and unfortunately have been hit with the perfectionist bug for years but I refuse to be held down with the idea that I have to find the perfect way to make money. I’m taking on a few ideas at a time and trying to balance them out by working on each thing for even a few minutes a day, even if it is just contemplating how it might work. I can also appreciate your feeling of loneliness. I get that sometimes but I also appreciate my time alone.

  6. I can also relate to you- that is oddly the recurring theme for me too, despite that I think I have no problem socialising and making friends. I think it is because I have never really came to terms with my internal-self, the moment I am all alone, I feel a sudden gush of emptiness, as if it is not enough to spend time with myself, as if I am inadequate to make myself happy. Maybe because we are perhaps ENFP’s? Happy and bright extroverts externally, but deep down, we are not at full-grips with ourselves? It is a puzzle for me too, which I grapple with sometimes.

  7. Also having a theme of loneliness, I identified with your post, but was also a bit disappointed you didn’t share more of your inward journey looking at whether your theme was a good one or not. I’ve always struggled with “is this just the way I’m wired and like being alone” versus “I make choices to be alone based on character defects I wish I could fix”. In the end it’s probably a balance of the two, but I’d be interested in your thoughts.

  8. I’ve often felt the same way. I rarely have fun in “social situation”. Here and LA that means going out to a club, bar whatnot. Because I never say yes, people stopped inviting me and I totally understand why. Although I choose to say no, sometimes I do feel very lonely. Just wanted to say you’re not alone = /

  9. Mine is being an outsider, feeling excluded. I was raised a military brat. Moving every three years or so I was always on the outside of the “herd.” I’m an introvert, I enjoy solitude, and am content with a few close friends. But I feel like I’ve failed in my so-called (creative) career because I can’t figure out the formula to work into the “in crowd” of my field. It’s like high school all over again.

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