Funny that I should write about solitude after the previous post! At university I always wondered what people enjoyed about studio apartments – shopping for one person, cooking eating and cleaning alone, or coming home each day to your own company. Or, why office workers would eat at their own desks or find somewhere quiet to sit rather than munching and chatting away in the tea room. But perhaps I understand the appeal of solitude a little better now.
I think it’s not so much that you get older, but that working life changes things. As students, almost everyone is your peer and more or less, everyone treats each other as equals. At work, there are people “above” and people “below” (or maybe not as a first year graduate), and that in itself seems to restrict day today interactions to something mechanical and rather cold. I’m sure many of these people would be lovely, had you met them socially, or even as a student – for as a medical student you are almost exempt from the working hierarchy, and even if not, it’s not that difficult to run away from it all. We interact with such an extensive web of individuals involved in care of patients, yet if life had a green bar for social fulfilment (I’m picturing the bars in The Sims), these impersonal interactions do little to fill that need.
Yet it’s strange because not having meaningful social interactions makes me so sick of people at the end of the day that I am too tired to seek out friends and outings. When I was in a small rural town “in the middle of nowhere” it was simple – I wasn’t going out to meet anyone because I didn’t know anyone in town aside from the other interns. But now I’m in a familiar place, running into many familiar faces in the hospital. And I do have friends here I could contact, yet I am still sitting in the unit, listening to the clock tick on the wall and the water drip in the sink. I had dinner at a nice Thai restaurant and if the place wasn’t so spacious I would have wondered whether sitting on a two person table alone was taking up space unnecessarily. Maybe that’s why people get takeout instead, or maybe they should make more one person tables.
When you return to a place you loved, roads, houses and trees are what you remember them to be. But with friends, few may remain but many have left, and others have just drifted away from your life by the waves of time. It’s not that I can’t enjoy my own company but perhaps it is the contrast of what is here to what was here makes the solitude more unbearable.
I’m not sure if work is causing this, or whether being uninspired to do things outside if work makes work itself less tolerable. Whatever the case, as I settle in, I will get out and do things – both alone and with others. Before I become a hermit in this self contained unit. Before I become terribly bored of my own company with no funny stories in my head to laugh at and no interesting thoughts to want to write down. Before I become tired of life in general. Sorry if there wasn’t much to be gained from this post (it’s one of those things you read that makes you think blah blah blah whinge whinge whinge). I will make a new heading for this category of posts, appropriately titled as “uninspired”.