Brendan: “Hey, I want to watch the football game on Saturday.”
Me: “Far out. What time? We should try to get your Halloween costume stuff that day too.”
Brendan: “It starts at 11.”
Me: “Okay, maybe we can go to the Halloween store after it’s over.”
Me: “Who’s playing?”
Brendan: “Texas and Oklahoma.”
For those of you who don’t know, the UT vs. University of Oklahoma football game has been held every October since, I don’t know, the dawn of time or whatever. It’s a big fat deal in college sports: they hold it in Dallas (a neutral location!) and all the sports fans go for the weekend.
I’d completely forgotten about the game’s existence until Brendan mentioned it, but during the two years I spent at UT, the Texas-OU game weekend was my favorite weekend of the whole school year. Not because of the game, which of course I never attended, but because the campus was nearly deserted from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening.
I didn’t do anything differently on those weekends, mind you. I read and wrote letters and listened to music in my dorm room, ate in the cafeteria, walked to the computer lab on campus and back. But almost nobody was there to see me do it! Phrasing it this way sounds weird, but it’s how I felt: I could be invisible without worrying that anyone was watching me be invisible.
See, I knew that in my section of the dorm I was already known for being the girl who didn’t go anywhere. People would knock on my door to borrow things or ask questions on a Friday night, knowing full well that I’d be in my room. It embarrassed me to be this person, since everyone else went out every chance they got.
That’s one of several noticeable differences between being a dorm shut-in during your undiagnosed depression and being an apartment shut-in during your unemployed year. In your apartment you can eat and bathe without leaving, there aren’t classes to attend, and you have no roommate, so there’s nobody around to watch you be a shut-in. Also your neighbors are not all kids just out of high school, so they don’t care what you do.
I’ve talked a lot about my need for alone time on this site before, so obviously I learned not to worry about what people thought of it. I’ve also acquired at least five wonderful and engrossing hobbies since then, so I don’t even have time to worry about it.
That said, it’s important to get a balance. I get really testy if I don’t get lots of alone time, but if I get too much things can start to get depressing. I plan to spend this Texas-OU weekend alternately going out and working on projects at home.