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.