On the introvert-extrovert scale, I am the text book example of the socially less-desirable end. I’m one of those strange creatures that retreats to the back room in the middle of parties, reads encyclopedias for fun, and doesn’t seem to have much to say. I like being alone.
I enjoy sitting in silence, wandering through the woods of my mind and observing the scenery.
Many people don’t understand that. I have friends that jump from relationship to relationship, unsure of what to do with themselves when alone for more than a few minutes. I know people who check into their social media accounts every five minutes, just in case someone else’s “right now” is more interesting than their own. I’ve seen children that, despite being too young to make their own decisions, are handed electronic devices and thus stripped of the opportunity to experience boredom, lonesomeness, and creative self-exploration.
“We have been to the moon, we have charted the depths of the ocean and the heart of the atom, but we have a fear of looking inward to ourselves because we sense that is where all the contradictions flow together.”
The world is filled to the brim with uncertainties and discrepancies. It’s often hard to face the difficult questions, to face the grim realities of life. As our parents and grandparents age, fear grows in our minds like the rancid stench of butchered gazelle decaying on the savanna. We are reminded of our own mortality, our own fragility.
So we try to be strong. We erect walls around our hearts, built from colorful cardboard bricks. We turn away from discomfort, we subdue feelings of pain. We invite fear into our lives and give him a mask of courage, anger, and masculinity.
We invite fear into our lives without even realizing it.
Fear prohibits us from living fully. Yet, fear is the silence of an empty night; too often, we don’t even realize that we’ve invited a cruel and controlling house-guest into our personal space.
I’ve read time and time again that it is hugely advantageous to “do one thing each day that scares you.” Through the identification, confrontation, and conquering of fear, perhaps we will come to learn his face. Then, perhaps, it will be easier for us to turn him away when he shows up eager to steal away our emotional energy.
“The problem is not to find the answer, it’s to face the answer. “
We must find the courage to entertain new ideas and think new thoughts. This may entail facing fears, losing old friends, and learning to savor the sweet aroma of solitude.
We must expand our exposure to both inner wisdom and external inspiration. We must learn to take in the world around us, observing both the obvious and the nuanced. We must learn to make new connections and view life through the lens of metaphorical poetry.
We have the opportunity in this life–in the here and the now–to explore our own consciousness, and I believe this is where our personal sense of meaning is buried. The treasures of life are beneath our very own feet, before our eyes, and in our hearts; the sound of our buzzing metal detectors is drowned out by our inner critic–the ever-repeating “you’re no one” and you don’t deserve it.”
We seek answers endlessly, often to fruitless questions and concerns, when the answers lie within. Yet, as with the fear of death, we struggle to face our own truth.
“The cost of sanity in this society is a certain level of alienation.”
Throughout my life, I’ve repeatedly been faced with a sense of lonesomeness, of not being understood, of not fitting in. With time, I’ve developed some special friendships with people who are like-minded, like-hearted, and on a similar path. They are few in numbers, but they are my safe haven for sharing ideas, emotions, and aspirations. (If you feel that sense of alienation currently, join a meetup group with shared interests or compliment strangers at your favorite events. It’s terrifying, but highly rewarding. They’re out there.)
It would be my dream for everyone to one day wake up to their own truth, to begin giving a damn about one another. But I am not holding my breath. So, instead, for the sake of my own sanity, I show up in my own life. I carve out the time to ask myself the difficult questions, and open my heart in ways that allow me to begin to face the answers that lie deep within.