Dear Neighbor

There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. From someone else’s viewpoint looking in, it’s a jigsaw trying to distinguish between the two. It’s easy to label it as loneliness. I should know, I had my tussle with this concept.

You see, I’m the neighbor who doesn’t throw parties. The neighbor you don’t get to see often at the community charades. The guy who doesn’t say too much during the occasional community meetups and events. The gentleman who keeps to his house on rather too many weekends.

The lonely guy? I could see why you would have this thought. Hell, I also had it at a certain point.

I have but a handful of chaps to whom I would endear the title “friends.” Yes, endear. And by that title, I regard them close. My WhatsApp is not the most active, save for a few groups (that I’m not sure how I got sucked into) that keep pushing notifications throughout the day. I sometimes wonder what these people do for a living. Thank God for the ‘mute notifications’ option.

Why don’t I leave the groups, you ask? Sometimes the banter is a treat. I’d rather have that option. Albeit a quiet option.

Curious to have a peek through my lens? To see it, as I see it? Here is the thing, I have an energy meter, quite like you and everybody else you know has one. During the day, various activities either fill up or drain my energy bar. Sounds obvious, right? But hear me out. I am not referring to physical energy but mental energy (though it does affect your physical too, sooner or later.)

For me, engaging in social gatherings with lots of new individuals, delving into small-talk for an extended period, and being in high stimulation drains my batteries.

Do I hate these scenarios? No, I don’t. Not at all. I love some of these engagements — meeting and resonating with new people. It’s only that I can’t stay in this environment for too long.

It’s like ice cream. What’s better than licking the cold, sweet deliciousness of ice cream on a hot sunny day? Not much, if any. But yet there’s only so much you can lick before you ring up your dentist, right.

I guess you wonder what I’m usually doing in the house on those beautiful sunny weekends?

Sometimes I sleep in. Other times I read a book. And at times, I binge-watch on Netflix for much longer than I intended to. On glorious days, I write, and at the dance of my fingers, sometimes I draw. I also eat (lest you think it’s a starved staycation.) And inspired, I do dabble in the respected indulgence in FIFA and COD (The folks who came up with these two titles deserve a Nobel Prize as far as I’m concerned. It’s peace.) Usual stuff, if you ask me.

Oh, and for the community meetups and events, I do attend. If you’re hoping to find me, look at the edges of the venue, where all the cinematic views lie. I’ll be most likely sipping while observing and savoring the details of the event. The mix of colors, the aroma of the delicacies, the beautiful expressions of the attendees — the whole event. If you were to ever need a painting of the event, I’d be the guy to give you the detailed descriptions.

And when not in the savoring business, I would likely be chatting up a small group of folks, laughing here and there.

So next time you see me in the lift or on the steps, do say, “Hi.” I promise I’ll say “Hi” back. You could even go as far as inviting me to your cactus’ 1-year birthday party. I’d likely decline politely. But I’ll be glad you asked.

In truth, as much as I love spending time with people, especially close friends, I enjoy spending time alone just as much. Who am I kidding? At times, I do enjoy spending time alone slightly more. Charging up my energy meter — allowing me to be present for others as much as I can.

Till we meet in the hallway,

Your introverted neighbor.

First published on Medium @mbatiawrites

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