Yester­day we went over sacri­fice, and it kicked-off this series’ set of arti­cles I like to refer to as the “dark week of the soul”. The 7 days of topics that really force you to look and deal with the dark, shad­owy, and uncom­fort­able topics that most people in this indus­try don’t talk about.

One of these is the alone­ness that can come with this work. For me, this has, and some­times contin­ues to be, a chal­lenge.

As a child, I would often play alone outside for hours at a time, and it was a lot of fun. At some point, I took it personal, and ques­tioned my worth when people didn’t want to play with me or be my friend. I had very little friends through school, was teased, sat alone at lunch, picked last in gym class, crying myself to sleep on a Friday night at 16 because nobody invited me out… you name it.

It was the driver that forced me to become self aware and begin my jour­ney. Still to this day I’m still discov­er­ing why this happened and how I continue to isolate myself. Even though I carried my lone­li­ness with me into adult­hood, the time I spent alone as a kid was crucial in the devel­op­ment of my imag­i­na­tion and skills that serve me now.

There’s a gift in all of it.

As you may have discovered—being the artist, the entre­pre­neur, the innovator—intrinsically requires alone­ness. Often black sheep, we think differ­ently, feel differ­ently, see and move through the world differ­ently. Many of us are creat­ing new systems and habits that don’t fit in with main­stream activ­i­ties.

There is a lot of soli­tude required in most arts—time spent master­ing our crafts. The begin­ning of learn­ing an art can take years of isolated prac­tice and concen­tra­tion. The startup phase often requires us to spend count­less hours work­ing, while friends are out party­ing. There is often no campus or office space with work­ers to mingle with, or empow­er­ing creative mentors that are avail­able to hang around with. And if your path is focused around the computer, it becomes even more narrow and isolated.

“The artist devotes himself, and it is a long, long disci­pline. And every day, every hour, every minute spent in the studio is a cancel­la­tion of a minute that could have been spent in life. You can’t have the two.” — Joseph Campbell, on Thomas Mann in 1969

So often in this jour­ney we look around and there’s noone that really under­stands what we’re going through. We may not have the mentors, friends, family, or culture that supports us. We may be doing some­thing that’s never been done before, and the people around us treat us like we’re crazy. There are times when the only person that believes in us, is us.

We all have our 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. It’s part of it. The valleys are neces­sary to have peaks. Whether it’s the times of lone­li­ness itself, or the chal­lenges of busi­ness, or the aware­ness of suffer­ing, or the amount of work it takes. You have to under­stand that there are very few people on this planet doing what you’re doing.

You are on the lead­ing edge. You have to enter the forest at your own spot.

But you are not alone. You have all of conscious­ness with you. The world is teem­ing with life that’s aware of you… but are you aware of it? It’s the support of the universe help­ing you on your jour­ney to move us all forward.

This tells us we can never really be alone. It’s a choice.

Yet, this day is not about never being alone. It’s not about making lone­li­ness wrong. It’s not about how you can create a social life if you don’t have one. It’s not about avoid­ing people or avoid­ing soli­tude.

It’s about getting to the truth of your lone­li­ness story, and being at peace with the prac­ti­cal logis­tics of your process. What part is a story of suffer­ing, and what part is neces­sary to achieve what you want.

What are the real reasons you isolate or choose to feel lonely?

  • Are you bitter against men or women and use that as a reason to drive your work isola­tion?
  • Are you resent­ful to the people who’ve made fun of you and are driven to be success­ful as revenge?
  • Are you afraid of being seen?
  • Are you certain nobody will under­stand you?
  • Are you afraid to depend and rely on others?
  • Are you afraid of being judged and gossiped about?
  • Are you annoyed with the culture and think being eter­nally isolated is the answer?
  • Are you afraid of being rejected or having to reject?
  • Are you using work and being busy to avoid feel­ing some­thing?
  • Are you inse­cure around people?
  • Are you using being and intro­vert as an excuse for poor social skills?
  • Are you blam­ing the loca­tion you live?
  • Are you trying to fill a void?
  • Are you seeing your­self as incom­plete?

There are many valid reasons for choos­ing to work in soli­tude. But they are not based in suffer­ing or avoid­ance. Sometimes we need soli­tude to create, and other times we need to market to real people to sell.

We want to be at peace alone, and we want to be at peace with others. We want inti­macy with ourselves and with others. We want to be vulner­a­ble with our own selves, and with others.

The reason you feel lonely is some­thing for you to explore, and to face the feel­ing instead of avoid­ing it. To discover alone­ness with­out lone­li­ness.

That’s how you discover peace; that’s how you stop feel­ing lonely.

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