The most lonely I’ve ever been in my life was during my first year and a half of college.
I was an out-of-state student adjusting to a new world without much guidance. Perpetually sick, one week I had a cold, next week a fever, rinse and repeat from September to winter break. As a way to cope, I enveloped myself in music; listening to my iPod at virtual all times where human interaction wasn’t required. I’ve never had issues attracting girls, but college hook-up culture didn’t mesh well with my personal and spiritual comportment. And what tied this all together was I still hadn’t gotten over the death of one of my best friends Eddie. He was run over by a drunk off-duty police officer. I was stuck in muddy melancholia, unsure of how I could get out — to be honest, not making much effort to get out.
This amalgam of issues sent me into a vicious cycle: I felt sick and lonely, and the only thing that made me feel better was playing basketball. After my classes got out, I’d go to the gym and play pick-up for hours, not leaving until dinner time. It doubled as an outlet and as practice, since I was training to tryout to be a walk-on the basketball team. I’d be so exhausted when I got home that I had no energy nor motivation to do homework or study, choosing to either go to bed or make beats on my laptop. The next day’s classes would come, my body would be sore from hours of basketball and from whatever sickness I was nursing, my mind would be running on fumes, so I’d get bad grades on tests. This made me feel like crap. Back to hours of hooping catharsis, and the cycle repeated.
My grades for my first semester in college were the worst I ever gotten in my life. I was put on academic warning and the secondary effect was that my GPA was so low, there was no way they would accept me onto the basketball team, regardless of my skills or effort. When I got home for winter break, I told my father what my grades were and then started crying. He had always been no nonsense about grades, so I expected hours of admonishment and lectures. To my surprise, he saw my tears and responded with empathy and only allayed disappointment. His reaction was exactly what I needed. It was a like getting to breath after being underwater too long. And when I look back on it, my father’s empathy after my academic setback was a seed…