My life as of late is at the same time free, yet stifling; simple, yet as complex as my own thoughts. I’m on summer vacation. Everyone’s gone to their respective places with their respective people doing their respective vacation things, except for the few who are here working, doing their own thing. I’m leaving in six days on the vacation of my dreams, but in the meantime, here I am.
When I lived in Tasiujaq, I learned, more or less, how to be comfortable being alone. While I like to think I’d always been independent in a lot of ways, in Tasiujaq I became socially independent. I spent most of my time knitting, sewing, drawing, reading, doing yoga, or hiking. Alone. For the most part, I enjoyed it. Yes, occasionally I was lonely, but over time, I came to value my own company. I never kept myself waiting and I never had an excuse not to do what I loved. I never held myself back and I never let myself down. If I wanted to hike six hours in search of muskox herds and photo opportunities, I did. If I wanted to bundle up in my warmest of warm clothes and lay in the snow in the dark waiting for the northern lights, I did. If I wanted to read a book or knit a scarf from start – to – finish, I did.
But after three years, I needed something more. I didn’t necessarily want a change of scenery, but I needed balance – balance between socialization and independence, north and south, rural and urban. There’s a big difference between introversion by choice and introversion by force, and I was starting to feel suffocated by the latter. I yearned for the opportunity to be a little extroverted sometimes. Without renouncing life in the north that I’d really grown to appreciate, I wanted to live in a place where I could do all the things I loved to do in Tasiujaq, while also being able to volunteer and get involved, listen to live music, participate in community events, join a fitness class or even just go to a gym, drink a beer at a bar or eat a meal in a restaurant. As beautiful as Tasiujaq is, and as much as I love and miss it, it offered me none of those things.
I moved to Kuujjuaq for this balance, and I found it. But over time, in the midst of the surprising hustle and bustle that is the life of a teacher in this northern village-metropolis, I’d forgotten how to be alone and enjoy it to the extent that I’ve been required to over the past few weeks. I’ve struggled to find the same pleasure in my hobbies. I do them, and I enjoy them – every day I read, I draw and I exercise. Some days I even exercise twice. I’ve even found new hobbies. But what lingers is this constant craving for human interaction; this anticipation for the telephone to ring or a message to pop up on my computer screen. This is a feeling I thought I’d grown beyond.
As difficult as this has been, awesome is this opportunity to re-learn how to be socially independent, and enjoy my own company again. Awesome is the opportunity to relish this time in which the only direction I’m being pulled in is my own. This time won’t last forever – soon I’ll be traveling (alone and with others), and after that a new school year will begin so hectic and full of newness it will have me longing for some time alone – but in the meantime, I’ll think of this as a learning opportunity.