Particularly this semester, as my time at MIT comes to a close, I’ve been spending more one on one time with friends who mean more to me than the world. We’ve gone through a lot together, and I’ve learned who has my back, who can take my crap, and who I’d sacrifice basically everything for. But there are those times when the people go away, and all I’m left with are the problems I conveniently forgot about. 

It’s not immediate. The joy, the laughter, the conversation and the overall feeling of happiness fades over time. It starts from suddenly realizing that you are alone, that you’ve been alone for a while, and that it won’t change anytime soon. It’s the feeling of helplessness as you look to the pile of responsibilities left untouched because, while your friends were around, you were empowered to not give a damn. But now you’re alone, and suddenly the consequences seem so much bigger, and your inability to work seems practically traitorous. Then it’s that feeling of inadequacy – why is it so hard to work? Why must I have people around me to feel more like myself? Why can’t I do what I know I can do without anyone around me?

It’s been hard to learn, but I realized that despite my talents, despite my energy, and purely in spite of the fact that I know I can do a good job if I just put my mind to it, I cannot do anything by myself. And in this day in age – when individualism is key and pulling yourself up from your bootstraps is golden and not relying on anyone else is not only necessary, but assumed –  I find it hard to see it as anything but a flaw. A mistake. A reason for being useless, and a validation for my pathetic nature.

But it’s not true – needing people is not a bad thing. Feeling lonely is not pathetic, and wanting to share moments with another person is not necessarily clingy. Needing to be listened to, for someone to hold your hand, to be loved – these are universal, but for some people its disabling. And logic states that if something makes you unable to do the best you can do, it’s a problem.

It’s hard to remember that it’s not a problem. It’s hard to look at the little I’ve accomplished and understand that it’s enough for me right now, and that I should be proud of myself for the little I’ve done. It’s hard because I remember times when I’ve been able to do more, and because I see others who’ve done five times as much without breaking a sweat. It gets so hard at times that I just want to throw in the towel and be done with it. Why try so hard when I’ll never be as good at something as I know I can be? And even worse – you try to fix the problem, but it’s hard to find people who will simply be there with you so that you can do your best. It’s all too hard. So why bother?

I suppose this tirade is to remind myself that there’s something worth fighting for, here. That essay, that job search, that graduation day – the finish line is near and it’s worth fighting for. That dream, that potential, that vague idea – the possibilities are blinding and they’re worth fighting for. Yet, fighting does not mean fighting myself – that’s counterproductive, and leaves me with less than I began with. No, the real threat is the distractions, the impending deadline – fight those, and forgive myself. Cut those out, not my friends. I’m not pathetic – I just need to start again.

And hopefully I can find someone who will sit with me without asking for anything in return. Because I have very little to give besides my love and appreciation right now. But God is good – I know there’s a way out from here. A way to be fully myself, and to not be ashamed that I need someone right now.

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