Katie Zinser: Week 7

If you see KATIE in the library it’s probably just because she can’t stand to be alone.

friends home Library loneliness procrastination work

It’s a tragic scene. A late night in the library and I’m staring so hard at each individual word on the page that my eyeballs start melting down my face. The words just stare back and I can’t seem to remember what any of them mean.

Page 3 of 75 and I’ve forgotten how to read.  A bit of an inconvenience to be honest. So I pick up my phone for some light reading and go through my text history (as if there’d be any new ones) to try and trick my silly little brain into remembering.

However I didn’t even have time to feel relieved that I was literate again, because I was bored to death by the (apparent lack of) content of my messages. My text history is more tedious than at age 12 when my only contact was my mum. Almost every text and message is me checking where my friends are, like a needy cyberstalker. ‘Brunch now?’, ‘Hall at 6:15 right?’, ‘Are you in? I’m outside your door and I think I can hear you breathing inside.’

I seem to have developed an aversion to being alone.  This might explain why I’ve suddenly taken a great liking to the library. Wetherspoons it ain’t, but I take great comfort in just being around other people. Maybe it’s the solidarity of being miserable or maybe I’m just a creep who enjoys sharing other people’s body heat.  Or maybe it’s so I can indulge in sparkling text conversations like this:

‘Are you in the library’

‘Yeah’

‘Are you working?’

‘Yeah’

‘Same’

‘Where are you I want to see you’

‘South side’

‘Hey I can see you!!!!! P.s. going for a wee now’

That’s one of the better ones. I don’t think it even stems from boredom, because transactions like this are arguably more boring than the historiographical banter I get my hands on every week.

All I know is that when the library was evacuated yesterday because of a scandalous gas leak, I was so gutted at the prospect of returning to my lonely room that I went to Starbucks to buy an overpriced soapy Christmas coffee that I enjoyed about as much as a punch in the vagina.  The only upsides were the heart-warming sense of mutual outrage as we all packed up our books and fled the noxious gases, and the fact that I now have a particularly niche excuse for my lack of reading this week.

It’s strange because at home I do almost everything alone. I eat my lunch alone watching Sex and the City reruns. I go for walks alone. I cook alone to test out new experiments. I love my own company and my bedroom door usually says shut so I can play solitaire in peace and practice my earnest singing face in front of the mirror.

Yet at university my door is always open, so that anyone who walks by has to feel obliged to stop and keep me company. I strategically live in the centre of college to maximise my chances for visitors. Loneliness apparently pushes you to tactical extremes.

Somehow being alone is all the more depressing when I’m here. Maybe it’s because being alone gives you too much time to start thinking about all the ways your peers are superior to you. Maybe it’s because the Cambridge daily routine is so soul-draining that alone time loses its serenity and becomes ‘wasted time’, or ‘time in which you should be working’.

Doing things with other people validates your own procrastination, because then at least somebody else is procrastinating too. At least that’s how I justify following my friends around like a smelly but affectionate rescue dog. Wasting time alone is procrastination; wasting time with other people is a work-life balance.