Friday, November 17, 2006

On Solitude and being Human

Is solitude such an abnormality?

Why do I ask this? A while ago, at our Division's Culminating program, I was seated at the back with no one beside me. What can I say, I have no close friends in my division--hence, the vacant chairs to my left and to my right. Then this ex-classmate of mine arrives, sees me, and immediately exclaims, "Aww, look at Mel, she's all alone". No, she didn't say that with a mocking tone. She just said it like she had seen a poor abandoned puppy on the side of the road. At that point, I was just ready to weep for myself. Nah, not really. But it did get me to thinking: am I really such a pitiable case just because I have no one to sit beside me? Why do people automatically think I'm lonely just because I'm by myself???

Well, maybe I am lonely. Yes, I confirm that: being by myself sucks. But I just can't help it; I'd rather be alone than be with someone with whom I feel ill-at-ease. That way, I can avoid the awkwardness of having to initiate and sustain conversation. It's very stressful--the way you have to come up with possible topics of common interest, scanning the perimeter for something interesting to talk about, the verbal exchanges that die too soon and end in awkward silences, and the disappointment of enduring a stream of bad jokes.

I have just identified another problem that may point to my lack of a social network. I consider the process of making friends too taxing. Meaning, I hate having to flex a muscle just to get to know someone better. Once I've got someone figured out and come to the conclusion that this person is not worth knowing, I automatically halt all efforts to further our relationship. The thing is, almost everyone I know isn't worth the time of day to me. Ah, it's a chicken-or-egg case; I don't know if my laziness overrides my judgment, or vice versa.

Ah, enough about that. Let's just get on with the program(pun intended).

There was nothing memorable about the Humanities Division Day Culminating program--aptly titled, "It's Human's Day(!)". (Gee, how upbeat.) Oh yeah, I think the only time the audience really twitched a facial muscle was during Sir Don's poetry reading. God Sir Don is just so good when it comes to poems in the local language. It makes me so ashamed that I can't complete a single sentence in Cebuano without using "kuan" to fill-in every vernacular term I can't summon. Aside from the poetry reading, there was the usual fare of song and dance, then another round of song, then dance. (How very...Human.) I was yawning all throughout the show. It wasn't that boring; it's just that my body just lacked fuel--carbs, specifically. I was really hungry, and the only reason I stayed was because I was waiting for the free food at the end of the program. Also, I was waiting for the announcement of the winners of the Essay-writing contest, which I had joined. I wasn't really expecting to win; in fact, I thought my entry was pretty crappy, on account of the uninspiring essay question("As a Humanities student, how can I foster Arts & Culture appreciation in the Ateneo community?"). I just threw in a couple of magic words(collaborative effort, share the stage, break stereotypes Humans UNITE(!), fight world hunger, Christian Bale is a god, etc.), and spilled it randomly across the page. Ha! I make it sound like I barely broke a sweat writing that essay. Truth is, I was the last one to finish my piece. Not that I made a career out of it; I'm just no good when it comes to time-pressured activities.

Anyway, when the announcement of the winners finally came, the name for the Essay winner was nowhere to be found. There was a bit of a lull as the emcee looked here and yonder for the elusive name, but it seemed to escape everyone's mind. So the emcee just went ahead and announced the rest of the winners. As for me, I was just relieved that I didn't have to hear the name of a person aside from me being called. See, I was seated beside Pam(my classmate, and the one who appointed me as the class representative to the contest), and she somewhat believed I was a shoo-in for the first place.

After an hour or so, the program finally ended. I was pissed to find out that the complimentary food was reserved only for the faculty. Dammit, they're the ones who get paid, and they're the only ones who get to eat as well?!? A trip to the food court was out of the question, since I only had spare change in my wallet--hmm, that's P14 plus a few cents, minus P8 for my jeepney fare. Oh, the poverty. I scurried out of the hall, determined to buy some filling streetfood, at which point Pam called out to me. She had asked the organizers for the name of the winner, and it turns out that the winner was me. I couldn't really care less at that point. I was pennyless and hungry and all I wanted was someone to hand me the prize money. No such luck.

So I settled for boiled corn. Best boiled corn I've ever tasted in my entire life.