I was just Michaela. I had to be okay with that.
One year ago today I got on a flight to London. It was my last semester of college. I left the comfort and nostalgia of my small school to a huge city where I didn't know anyone.
Grad school applications were turned in, I didn't need these classes to graduate, all I had left to do was enjoy the rest of my time in undergrad while traveling as much as possible.
The transition from my natural state of being busy all the time to a huge lack of responsibility was liberating and terrifying. What would I do with all my free time? When was the last time I had free time?
No one knew what sorority I was in, no one knew who I had dated, no one knew my obsession for theatre, no one knew I had a twin sister. I had a clean slate. I could be anyone I wanted to be.
Who are you when no body knows you?
Now who did I want to be? I didn't really know at that point. I didn't think it was something that I could actually chose.
Most people don't study abroad their last semester of college.
I had forgotten what it was like to be a freshman in college, to introduce yourself and fling yourself into making friends. So many people were so much younger than me, it was hard to click with people. I also wasn't at a point in my life where I felt comfortable being vulnerable with people I would probably never see again after this trip.
Going to London, I was excited to reinvent myself, but instead I actually figured out who I was.
I spent a lot of time alone.
Which was probably the best thing I could have ever done.
I have a twin sister, so I was not even brought into this world by myself.
This also meant every time we moved I had someone in my grade to hang out with. I went to the same undergrad as my cousin, and my college was only an hour and a half away from my home town. I lived in a dorm and joined a sorority, so I was always surrounded by people I knew.
People are so afraid of being alone. I was too. There was this stigma that if you were alone it is because no one likes you, or you're boring, or even worse, you're forced to face yourself. The self-reflection starts to set it.
When I had stripped away the labels that I had placed on myself, and I spent time alone, I actually started to figure out who I was.
There was a choice, do what everyone else was doing and latch myself on to them, or do what I wanted to do, which would mean spending a lot of time alone.
So I saw plays, read a lot, went to museums, parks, coffee shops, and traveled a lot. I did most of this by myself.
I spent 4 days in Amsterdam, by myself.
While there I realized that being alone is awesome. I got to do whatever I wanted! I spent 5 hours in the Van Gogh Museum. I spent an entire day laying in bed because I got food poisoning. I spent hours in a tulip garden. I went to a museum about the Red Light District. I didn't have to ask someone what they wanted to do, or how they would feel about what I wanted to do.
I JUST DID WHATEVER I FELT LIKE DOING.
This was the first time I could be 100% selfish and it was amazing.
My trip to Amsterdam was not my favorite trip at all. It was probably my least favorite trip. I got food poisoning, my flight was delayed 8 hours, I found out I was rejected from my dream school. I was in a hostel with a lot of other women.
The worst things that could happen on a trip, did, but I survived, and I got through it by myself. If I could survive Amsterdam, and still have a good time. I could do anything.
Then I spent too much time alone.
I found out I got rejected from all my graduate programs I applied too.
My roommate was gone. No one in the States was awake. My boyfriend at the time was on a flight back to California. I was completely alone as my entire future crumbled before me. What the fuck was I going to do?
I laid in bed for 15 hours. Not sleeping. Not eating. My roommate brought me a pizza and a milkshake to make me feel better. I cried a lot. A lot.
My roommate forced me out of bed and we explored parts of London we hadn't seen before. She really did save me from losing myself in myself. I felt like a star imploding.
I was sick of being alone. I wanted to go home. That's okay.
My parents paid for me to change my flight so I could get home a couple days sooner. I don't think I would have made it even those extra couple days.
Luckily the week I got back to America, I got to see my sorority sisters, my twin sister, and felt rushed with love and was no longer alone.
The day after my graduation, my siblings flew back to the states they live in, I moved back to San Diego with my parents, and I was alone again. I cried. Even harder. I had no job, no money, no plan. Who was I if I wasn't a student, a theatre artists, a hard worker?
I was just Michaela. I had to be okay with that.
I spent the first couple days after graduation just sleeping. In two weeks I had flown from London to LA, from California to Missouri, was the maid of honor in my sister's wedding, and then flown back to graduate college.
So I took the time to get to know myself. I could be anything I wanted. I could do anything I wanted. This was a freedom that was excruciating.
A year later, I am back in Los Angeles, and I am happy I got broken down, because I got to rebuild my life the way I wanted it to be. I had a blank canvas for life. I discovered that a lot of people I went to school with went through the same identity crisis and loneliness. We went from being in a dorm with all our friends just steps away, we went from being sorority women, student athletes, club presidents, to being just college graduates. It was a scary plunge, but a necessary one.
I have an amazing roommate, am surrounded by friends who love and support me, and am still only about two hours from my parents. I don't think I could truly appreciate this, and truly love myself, if I wasn't faced with being lonely.
Don't be afraid to do things on your own. Don't be afraid of being lonely.
By being by myself, I learned who I was, I learned who I wanted to be, I learned to love myself.