Interpersonal Distance

On Thursday night, our cohort went out together to grab a few drinks. At some point during the night, they wanted to take a photo of the group. I stepped aside, out of the picture, despite their requests for me to join them.

We ended up having a great night together, but I’ll never be in the picture that captured that night. I’ve been thinking about why I did this for the last couple of days.

Thinking about my behaviour, I’ve noticed that I’ve been actively maintaining a distance from my classmates. When it comes time to finding a seat in class, I sit at the first table I see with an empty seat, regardless of who is sitting there. I’ve been scrambling to find partners for group work, but I manage to always have a group. I don’t have anyone’s phone number, nor does anyone have mine. I have, however, become Facebook friends with some folks in my cohort, but I haven’t made any requests.

I don’t hang around after class to chat with people, and am finding myself reluctant to reveal information about myself during introductions. I went for lunch the other day, and when I got back a guy asked me why I didn’t invite the guys along. I made up some stupid excuse. I always head home alone, quickly after class is over.

I think there is good reason for this behaviour. Whether it is healthy or not has yet to be determined. I’m inclined to believe that I should be more social.

When I was going to school in Montreal, I wasn’t very social in class. Nor was I while in residence, for that matter. I did come away from that experience with a few great friends, and a lot of great memories.

When I was in school in Calgary, I had a different experience. I wasn’t very socially engaged during my first year, spending a lot of my free time working out personal shit (usually at a pub). In my second year I had a job with the student newspaper, a part-time job at a restaurant, and a girlfriend for most of the year. I didn’t fare too well in my second year, and left for the big smoke soon after the school year ended.

I had a plan: I was going to make my way in Toronto. Landing and keeping a job didn’t pan out, but I made long strides in many other aspects of my life. I can’t speak highly enough about the friends I now have. I’ve also made some life decisions that are going to prove beneficial if I follow through on them.

Most importantly, I’m now in teachers college. So, I’m back in post-secondary for the third time and I’m patterning behaviour from my past.

It’s not that I don’t want new friends, or the chance to get to know new, interesting people. It’s that I don’t want to get close to anyone. Really, I don’t want to have to distance myself from someone who I’m close to when it comes to an end.

This is probably something that I should seek counselling for, but I’m outing myself on my blog instead. Maybe I’ll see the counsellor on Tuesday afternoon, too.

See, I’m scared of getting hurt (again). For all of the pleasure that intimate – platonic and sexual – relationships bring, I’m just not ready to suffer the pain of loss. I’m not feeling emotionally stable enough to suffer loss.

I’m envisioning the next year as one full of gains, and any potential losses have to be mitigated. The only risk I want to run, for the next year, is a hangover.

I still have feelings. I even have a burgeoning crush on a classmate. I don’t think I’ll ever be black-hearted, and I want my penis to work for a long time to come. But, I think that this distance that I’m imposing between me and my company is part of the sacrifice that I agreed I would make for the next year.

Still, I’m not sure that I’m doing the right thing. Maybe I should be looking at this year as one in which I gain a real sense of independence. But how can you be independent alone? I mean, you need to be juxtaposed against a group to be independent, right? Can you be independent while remaining a member of a group?

Maybe I just need to learn how to enjoy, to the fullest, the experiences that life affords me, and how to enjoy, without prejudice, the memories that result.

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