I’ve experienced a roller coaster of emotions during this sabbatical: excitement, fear, thrill, anxiety, inspiration, doubt, pride, depression. But one feeling that has really become prominent over the last few weeks: loneliness.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I think the feeling has been there, lingering. I think it was probably there even before I quit my job.
Embarking on this sabbatical is a very individual, singular journey. Even the way I approached this exploration in the beginning was independent and insulated. I learned web development on my own through online courses rather than, say, doing an in-person bootcamp. Exploring content creation through this blog is an autonomous task.
There were highlights of exploration through teamwork and a feeling of togetherness. Having a friend guide me through video production. Working with my husband and friends on the podcast together. But those project have slowly slipped away.
My approach to interior design was a welcome change. I took classes and shared my exploration with a room full of classmates. But with the school being so far away, it didn’t leave me much time to form many close connections. I rushed to my car right after class each day to desperately get ahead of traffic. And I didn’t go to many extracurricular events or club meetings because of the distance.
I think a lot hit all at once over the last few weeks that has made my loneliness so palpable lately. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a play — usually a built-in family for me. The semester ended, so I no longer see the couple of people I was close to in class. And a really close and important confidant left my life.
I’ve been keeping myself busy. I always do. I started work on a new podcast. I took on a summer internship. I’ve spent hours sorting through the clutter in our apartment. Those who know me well are very familiar with how utterly inept I am at taking a break. I tell myself that it’s because I don’t like feeling idle or unproductive. But I’m realizing that I also keep busy to distract myself from bigger issues.
And the moment I slow down — even for a little — it hits me. And that’s what happened yesterday. The aftershocks of my long and recently magnified isolation sent a tidal wave my way. I was pummeled by feelings of emptiness, reminded of what I’ve been missing, of what I’ve lost.
And, of course, because I don’t really have anybody else around (to take it out on?), it culminated in a huge fight with my husband. You might be taken aback by me “airing out my dirty laundry”. But I always said this blog is the place where I can speak my truth, and this is something that is affecting me.
And I’m not sure how to pull myself out of it right now. Some upcoming things will naturally help. I start rehearsals for my next play tomorrow. And summer school starts next week. But I fear those are temporary fixes. Distractions.
I started writing this post thinking that the point would be that this feeling of isolation is just further proof that my next career path should be something where I get to work as part of a team. But it feels bigger than that. So abysmally bigger.
Maybe I just needed to (figuratively) shout these words out into the ether. To see if the voices reverberating back are just my own echo. I need to reach out into that dark expanse to see if anyone reaches back.