“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, but I chose neither one. Instead, I set sail in my little boat to watch a sunset from a different view that couldn’t be seen from shore. Then I climbed the tallest mountain peak to watch the amber sun through the clouds. Finally, I travelled to the darkest part of the valley to see the last glimmering rays of light through the misty fog. It was every perspective I experienced on my journey that left the leaves trodden black, and that has made all the difference.“ ~Shannon L. Alder
Ever since a small child, I have enjoyed spending time alone. I experience a sense of unmatched comfort alone in my own world; writing, dreaming… simply being.
Solitude is my escape; the place where my soul simultaneously rests and comes alive. The peace I experience alone is like recharging my batteries when life has worn them down.
I have always felt very acutely. Emotions and sensations are overwhelming, and I am easily stimulated — by sound, sights, smells, feelings, and energies. I am aware of subtleties in other people and my environment, and I am intensely empathetic, which means I can absorb others’ vibrations and emotions like a sponge.
It can be exhausting receiving and feeling everything so much and sometimes I feel like I need to run away, to surround myself with nature or hide away in my own space, just to breathe and rejuvenate.
The pace of the modern world is just not built for sensitive souls. And whilst I adore spending quality time with the ones I love; a natural desire for solitude can be challenging in a society that tends to value extroverts, alpha personalities and social butterflies.
“We must never be afraid to be a sign of contradiction for the world.” ~Mother Teresa
I have always been a wanderer, a dreamer, a seeker of beauty. I have been on a lifelong quest for truth and authenticity; to find amongst others and in myself those qualities which I hold so dear.
I desire the flame of recognition that I sometimes see in the eyes of a stranger after exchanging a few words. That certain remembering, that feeling we’ve possibly been here before, looking at one another in another time, another world, speaking these words.
Growing up, I never found it hard to socialize and I formed friendships easily, but I tended to float from group to group, and I was always aware of this underlying feeling of existing on the outside looking in, like I operated on a different plane; like I didn’t belong.
I always longed to connect deeply, to the level I naturally operated on, but it was rare, and therefore I would let friendships slip away.
And so, despite my need for solitude, the great paradox of my existence is that I also have a strong desire for true connection; I come alive when my soul meets a kindred spirit and I blossom like a flower in the warm light of like-minded familiarity.
I can spend days alone, but when the spark of my soul is set aflame by another who truly sees and understands me, I am filled with the brightness of a thousand suns.
I’ll admit it’s sometimes been a difficult path to tread. However, the depth of sensation I have experienced, and that which is possible to experience through owning a wide open, curious heart, has meant it has been a deeply enriching and interesting journey.
There are times when I have felt somewhat disheartened by the world; I am often reduced to tears when faced with the struggles of my human and animal brothers and sisters, and therefore I am inclined to retreat away from it.
But with distance comes reflection, and with reflection comes growth, and the lessons that accompany my growth allow me to move past the uncomfortable and flip it on its head. I have learnt to embrace my sensitivity, my differences and turn them into fodder for change, creativity and inspiration.
I think there is, without doubt, magic to be found in the quiet spaces that we inhabit when we sink into ourselves.
When we retreat away from the world we find that we are able to access a deeper element of ourselves; one that has always been there, lingering, waiting to be recognized, longing to be found.
“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.” ~Albert Camus
Is our longing to be seen by others, perhaps a reflection of our need to see ourselves? A primal urge to know ourselves truly, without masks, without judgements, without fears. A desire to look into our own eyes, the windows to our soul, and say, “I really see you, and I accept you for everything you are.”
If you are someone who feels different from the rest of the pack in some way, then that’s beautiful and there’s magic in that.
There’s a reason some walk a slightly different path, and that is to cultivate time and space to nurture individuality and creativity; to inspire change. We feel a deeper instinct to be the change we wish to see. This is our calling and we have to answer it because it is our gift and ultimately, our truth.
There is real beauty in someone who doesn’t need to be surrounded by people or entertained, to be content.
I have chosen to find this magic in myself and others because it is tangible and real; it sparkles in the eyes of someone who has sat by the ocean, looked far out to sea and contemplated their existence.
It lingers in the eyes of someone who has looked up at the stars and discovered that we are never really alone; because we are all connected.
We are connected by invisible threads that weave between us, cross-stitching our stories, lives, hopes, dreams and wishes, to create a giant canvas quilt of which we all play our tiny part.
I am just as much an essential part of this great tapestry when I am sitting alone — creating, dreaming, wondering, breathing and feeling, as I am when I am integrated with the world — living, connecting and sharing. We grow when we are apart and we learn when we are together.
We share a piece of ourselves when we meet, when we connect, when we touch, and when we love. Equally as importantly, we nourish aspects of ourselves when we sit alone on benches, beds and beaches.
There’s a hidden gift in the separation from the whole: You can access the inner voice that whispers secret wisdom. You can learn to hear the voice of your heart, which is sometimes indistinguishable among the voices in a crowd.
“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I am learning to love my quirks; my tendency for time alone, my sensitive heart, my orchestra of emotions that play grand symphonies, my introversion on one day and my longing for people the next, my obsession with music and writing, my passion for the world, for animals, for the greater good of humanity, for peace, in the world and in my heart, and I am attempting to put them all to good use, in the ways I can.
I am learning to just go with whatever I am feeling that day, that week or month. I am learning to let go of the need to control things, or to know things, and I am learning to be okay with the way I am, whatever that means and whatever that brings.
I am learning that no matter what, we are all remarkably beautiful in our own unique ways, and that no one has the right to make us feel otherwise.
I am learning that people do sometimes try and make us feel otherwise but in offering yourself the gift of radical self-love, you can let it all go by the wayside as you continue to navigate your way along the great path of your own destiny.
I am learning that I am different from the pack, that I have always been so, and that I most probably always will be. I live my life on my own terms and I an learning to accept myself just the way I am, because if we can’t love and accept ourselves, in all our flawed human-ness, then who will, and who can?
I am learning that I like to be alone, that I like to be with people, that I like to be silent, that I like to talk all night, that I like loud, deep music, and dancing, and that I like oceans, forests and quiet mountains. I am a walking contradiction. But I am learning that it’s called being human and it’s beautiful, all of it, isn’t it?
“We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;
World losers and world forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.”
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul.
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