"How many people liked #3 the best?" I heard my teacher ask. I raised my hand and was surprised to find that I was the only one with my hand up. In front of every student there was a paper towel folded in half with three apple slices. #1 was a granny smith, #2 was a fuji, and #3 was a gala. Over half the class raised their hands for #1, a few students raised their hands for #2, and I raised my hand for #3. After the apple tasting we were all taken outside to take pictures in groups. Everyone who liked granny smith apples took a picture, everyone who liked fuji apples took a picture, and I took a picture by myself.
This isn't a story I think of very often, but a couple weeks ago I found myself in the grocery store and my mom asked me to pick some apples. Without thinking, I took some that I thought looked the best, and they happened to be gala apples. I guess I haven't really changed much...
When I was younger, I was often by myself. For the majority of my elementary school years, there were only three girls in my class, and anyone who knows anything about groups of three girls knows that it's never a good thing. The other two girls would often stick together and I'd be the odd one out. Of course there were times when it would be me and another girl, but then the third would be on her own. It was never a very good system, but it continued all the way from first grade to eighth.
On my elementary school's playground, there was a cement curb that went all the way around. At the far end of the playground by the swings, the curb went out from the fence, forming a triangle pattern and a small ditch between the curb and fence. My vividest memories of my early childhood are of my sitting in this ditch looking out through the fence. While there, I would do many things. I'd befriend the ants that lived around the curb or I'd imagine that I was in a spaceship or Cinderella's carriage. I'd write stories or sing songs, and I'd always leave knowing that even though I was alone, I wasn't necessarily lonely.
Alone, but not lonely. This was something I was very good at when I was really little, and then slowly got worse at. I was okay with taking the picture by myself, and I wasn't at all upset when the pictures went on display on the class bulletin board. But as I've gotten older, I've had trouble being alone and not being lonely. Sure, if I'm alone for a long enough period of time I can trick myself into thinking that I'm okay with it, but I'm really not. You see, I am, as my mom often reminds me, definitely an extrovert. I always have been, but I wouldn't say I'm necessarily good at it. I'm not good at initiating conversations with people, and if there's a group of people that I'd like to join, I usually can't convince myself to and will simply stay in the background.
I don't think I was meant to be alone, at least not in the lonely sense. I'm trying to get better at being alone but still feeling okay, but I'm not sure I'm getting better at it. There are people I know who are excellent at making friends, and they're able to initiate a wonderful conversation with just about anyone, and I wish I were like that. To be honest, I don't have a conclusion for this essay, but maybe that's okay. Maybe I'll be more comfortable with myself someday, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see. For now, enjoy this picture that I took of gala apples, as a nice reminder of a time when I was alone but not lonely.