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I was sitting in my mother’s living room the other day, watching the snow fall outside the window and accumulate into a serene peaceful winter quiet. All this while the piano played on my chromebook and the fire burned in the wood stove. I was set to do some writing as my laundry churned in the cleaning robots, and I got to thinking: writing is a lonely exercise.
I’ve noticed that since I’ve started writing I’ve spent more time alone in a quiet space with a cup of coffee imagining conversations instead of having real ones. Some of my most productive days were spent entirely alone, or with only Ginkgo for company. My proudest moments, like the day I wrote nearly 7,500 words or the days I dreamed up my most popular stories- my entire youtube collection. All of this was something I did alone. I spend every Sunday alone with my book collection, I even hovel myself up to check my views and eat meals.
For many people I believe that must be a tough thing to appreciate. People like me, who gain energy and feel better through hard solitary work aren’t the only ones with something important to say about the world. Many writers out there, I feel, struggle to write because it is by nature a lonely thing to do. I feel many extroverts struggle to contribute because they are ignored as loud-mouths and “fake”, as if because a person enjoys the company of others they are somehow incapable of coherent thought. And so they feel out of place and left alone when in the end what they, what we all want is to communicate.
It is hard for me to grasp that, because I don’t feel lonely anymore. Something clicked in my head over years of closing myself in where I became absolutely comfortable with just me- I befriended myself in a way. This is not an easy thing to do, it’s a spiritual process that takes years of hard work, but I feel we each need to find comfort with ourselves if we plan to be creators.
I flick my way through countless youtube videos and see hundreds of comics and drawings. I look at the time it takes to create this content, the effort and energy that goes into the perfect or even imperfect piece. What I see in the end is a lot of ‘lonely’ people- very few of whom feel lonely at all. These are people maxing out their skill trees, people who get up every day and avoid distractions in favor of personal growth.
When I was a teenager, I would look out the window and see an endless trail out along lines of trees. My mother would tell me that it was an Irish Wanderlust that kept my eyes glued- but I believe it was something far different. I believe that I was profoundly lonely. I was seeking adventure yes- but mostly what I wanted was experience. I wanted to have an avenue for growth because I felt that I was doing nothing of true use with my life. I had friends who spent their free time drawing, exercising, filming videos and learning to debate. The cool people I had met studied a craft, redid homework assignments, and practiced piano. I felt that I myself was trapped in an endless sea of social media, forum garbage, and idealism. I was wholly uncomfortable with myself.
This led me to a mediocre college life, where I alienated my friends and made false accomplishments- all the while thinking I was the greatest show on Earth yet having nothing to exhibit, nothing to be truly proud of. I believe this is a form of profound loneliness. It led me to curve deeper into myself- to see myself as the ultimate victim.
But now I am before you today, doing lonely things and feeling not even the slightest discomfort from it. Sure I can get caught up in the FOMO of Social Media, because I want to enjoy as many good things life can offer before I die. But in those moments I also look towards those who do great things and see a profound dedication to the lives they live.
There was a Physicist named Richard Feynman– one of the greats of the Manhattan Project, who stands out among a community plagued by ‘the loner’. He was a self- described extrovert, and you can feel it when he speaks You can see it in his expressions. But he was a Mathematician, a field known for its celebration of introversion. Feynman said no, he said that he was simply a man who worked hard to understand what it is he loved.
I have a few brilliant friends from my past and present. Each is a skilled near-master at something they were passionate about when I knew them. There’s one who runs around the world with watercolor paints and a camera and shows everyone how fantastic the natural world and the world of cross-country running can be. There’s a few who took their passion for words and published before they graduated college. The strange thing is that these people aren’t lonely, or they’ve at least never complained to me about it. (while I’ll admit it’s been some time). They may or may not be extroverted, introverted, or something in between- but what they are is passionate and beautiful in the skills they choose to perform.
I believe that in my old friends I have found the antidote to my own loneliness. The key was in self-discovery. These people who struggled to become highly skilled and valuable members of society. These people who take their craft, their minds, or their bodies to the ultimate limits have something that the lonely do not have. They have themselves.
So look at yourself, as you are today. What do you see? Are you the person you thought you’d be at this age? Have you found your own antidotes to loneliness in your love life, or your profession? Ask yourself what truly makes up you- find who it is you truly are and what it is you mean to do with your life, a ride we each may only experience once. Think about all of the time you have wasted over the years in negativity, during writer’s block or after a life altering break up. Think about all of the times you’ve sat staring out the window at the snowflakes. Each of those times, did you ask why the weather had to ruin your day, or did you think that it was a good day to go sledding?
I feel that we lose ourselves in harmful thoughts- that we are our own enemies more than anyone else can be. There are no superheroes, just regular people doing extraordinary things because they chose to. What do you choose to do with your life?
As you may know each week I ask you for a book recommendation so please, in the comments below tell us what book or series has restored your faith in yourself. Thank you for reading and I hope you have a wonderful week!
Keep reading, and keep writing, my friends.
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