Chelsea Fagan's Blog

25. NYC. Works at Thought Catalog. First book, I'm Only Here For The Wifi, available now where all fine literature is sold.

I was in a bar alone tonight, which is something I almost religiously avoid. But my friend had to leave to meet her boyfriend, and I had to meet the 20 dollar minimum on cards (come on), so I was left with a choice: Either do what I usually do, and tell the bartender “just charge me whatever is leftover,” or order a second drink. And though I wish that my usual waving away of that money was based in some glamorous lifestyle of not caring how much I spend in bars on Tuesday nights, it’s always based in the fact that I don’t like to sit alone.

But tonight I was armed with my book, and my phone, and a few friends who live in SoHo that I hadn’t seen in a while, so I thought I would stay. If nothing else, it would be a chance to finish the reading I should be doing for work. And I held out for thirty whole minutes, which is more than I usually can. I didn’t finish my whole second drink, but I read 20 pages and almost wasn’t bothered at all by the idea of sitting by myself.

And I know that it’s me, that there is something in my personality that prevents me from being able to just exist by myself, if I am not a) alone in my house or b) with some dignified purpose, such as waiting to meet someone. Maybe it stems from three years of near-solitary confinement, of working from home and in the back corners of coffee shops and almost never speaking out loud to another person. But part of it has always been that way, this strange aversion to sitting alone with my thoughts.

I told my friend that I had not explored much in my time here, because I have been actively resisting embracing New York, and it’s true. I’ve been treating it as a pit stop in the middle my “real” life, which won’t be here. And part of that has been the weather, but part of it has also been the isolation that I feel here. I have no real groups of friends that aren’t coworkers or a small handful of people from Maryland or France. I don’t get all that much time to explore the city, with a 9-5 job on weekdays and a boyfriend who is only here three days a week. And the very layout of the city — its size, its sprawl, the fact that going into Manhattan, even if it’s just one metro stop away, is not a walkable thing — prevents me from exploring. Frankly, I am intimidated by the city, and never more so than sitting alone at 9 PM in a neighborhood I don’t know very well at all.

It’s probably just the textbook definition of extroversion — I draw energy in social situations, and am sapped by aloneness, especially in such a social setting— but it’s at its most draining when you’re in a city like New York. Unlike the manageable, walkable, skyscraper-free cities that I am used to, it’s a metropolis that cries out for activity and meeting people and always having something stimulating to do. New York, in all of its crowds and noise and movement, makes you feel so incredibly isolated. Only in the safety of your apartment, or in a familiar coffee shop, can you really feel warm and safe in your solitude. Otherwise you’re a silent little rock at the bottom of the river, the current constantly rushing around you, slowly wearing you away.

  1. water-serpent said: I think you would like Boston. :) hang in there Chelsea! Spring is almost here too!
  2. pourdownlikesilver reblogged this from faganchelsea
  3. animse reblogged this from faganchelsea and added:
    Me in London and getting moaned at for choosing shit plans with people rather than doing what I want to do alone isn’t...
  4. notnatkingkole said: It just takes time, really. I was afraid I’d feel that way when I moved here but it gets better.
  5. sarahvlegume said: Really relate! But recently achieved reg status at a taco joint & solo nights have become my fav!
  6. wompthis said: So not be to be creepy but I totally want to be friends IRL as I could use more NYC girlfriends!
  7. usualchatter said: That’s my issue with NYC. Its so big, busy and bustling, it feels as if you should always be doing something, meeting someone, going somewhere.
  8. faganchelsea posted this