the periphery

by rantywoman

I’m feeling much better– my intense anger has left– and I’m more or less back to my original self, even on a Monday.

Although my job has it’s sticking points, there are definitely some good things about it– some avenues of creativity and fun. I will say, however, that although I’m extremely grateful to have it, the relief of knowing that abstract figures are replenishing my bank account cannot compensate for the inevitable feelings of dislocation and loneliness that have resulted from making a move at this age, especially since the move was to a place that does not readily offer the same types of social avenues I’ve built an identity on over two decades.

Although I don’t feel this bad, I found some solace in this:

Over the winter I moved from New York City to Portland, Ore. The reasons for my move were purely logical. New York was expensive and stressful. Portland, I reasoned, would offer me the space and time to do my work.

Upon arriving, I rented a house and happily went out in search of “my people.” I went to parks, bookstores, bars, on dates. I even tried golfing. It wasn’t that I didn’t meet people. I did. I just felt no connection to any of them.

Once social and upbeat, I became morose and mildly paranoid. I knew I needed to connect to people to feel better, but I felt as though I physically could not handle any more empty interactions. I woke up in the night panicked. In the afternoon, loneliness came in waves like a fever. I had no idea how to fix it.


When we are lonely, we lose impulse control and engage in what scientists call “social evasion.” We become less concerned with interactions and more concerned with self-preservation, as I was when I couldn’t even imagine trying to talk to another human. Evolutionary psychologists speculate that loneliness triggers our basic, fight vs. flight survival mechanisms, and we stick to the periphery, away from people we do not know if we can trust.