When was the last time you were alone—totally alone—for longer than a few hours? Yup. I figured that it’d probably been a while. I’m not sure when we lost the art of solitude altogether. It’s not something we learn. If anything, it’s something we reject.
I’ve always felt the pressure of having plans all the time, of having tons of friends on speed dial. If I wasn’t busy doing things with people, then I was falling behind. If I wasn’t connected to what other people were saying and doing, I was in the complete dark. Little did I know, such darkness is exactly the antidote most of us need to move our lives forward.
This time last year when I landed in Bali not knowing a soul, I don’t think I realized the type of extended solitude that I was about to experience. Short of a quick conversation with my barista at Moose Espresso, the owner at my favorite lunch spot, or a session with healer Jim… I was alone. In a foreign country. And especially the first few weeks, I was totally freaking out.
I had no idea what to do with myself. I judged every damn thing that I did do. And at first I didn’t know that all the crap showing up for me in solitude was grimy coal that would eventually transform into shimmering diamonds, and their reflection of light would shine my way forward.
If you’re not OK with being alone, you’ve probably convinced yourself and everyone around you that you prefer it that way. I sure did. Because in solitude the questions of our lives have the opportunity to bubble up. We have no distraction and no choice but to look our biggest fears dead on and either deny or deal. Of course dealing with the type of experience would be more comfortable on the back burner. But then you’re robbing yourself of quantum leaps forward, because you finally have the space to feel, breath, understand, and choose for you…not for those around you. Not because of commitments. Or anyone or anything else that needs you.
Solitude forces you to deal with the things holding you back. All those fears. All those instincts. Messages from your gut. Red flags that you’re trying to ignore. They come roaring. And of course they do, you finally have the time to turn inward. It’s the most life-strengthening gift you’ll ever give yourself…to see what you’ve been refusing to see. To deal in order to heal. Every day you keep yourself from looking that shit square in the eyes is a day you keep yourself exactly where you are. Solitude expedites the process of moving you forward.
Solitude allows you to expand into the space where distractions normally live. You get to take up space. So much space. You get dance around naked, sing in the shower, stare at the ceiling, journal your heart away, take in nature, cry with gratitude. You get to feel all the big feels because you’re finally fully tuned in. The space you take up in solitude is the space you should take up in any room, at any meeting, in any city, with any group.
Solitude strengthens. You get to know yourself, really know yourself, in solitude. Clarity comes. Magic unfolds. You build a muscle of self love, expression, and strength that gets to be worked out and put to good use back in the real world. Retreating away, aside from basic self care, is the greatest thing you can do to strengthen your soul, access it, and create a better version of your world.
Get on a plane. Book a hotel room. Find a nanny. Enlist your partner. Sublet your room. Stay at your apt and clear your calendar. It’s not as hard as you think once you choose to just do it.
Time. People. Children. Family. Commitments. It’s all excuses so you don’t have to do it. So you don’t have to get uncomfortable. So you don’t have to deal. You can hold onto those excuses as long as you want, but magic is waiting for you when finally do choose to let go.