Finding your tribe is important: they lift you up, they support you, they are your mirror.
Just as important, though, is finding comfort in being alone, luxuriating in the sacred space of aloneness.
And I’m real good at being alone.
I’m an independent person, but this isn’t to say I don’t love spending time with others. My tribe, my family, a lover, my students and even striking up conversation with strangers are all intensely gratifying to me. Like, 30% of the time. Otherwise, I’ll off doing me, thankyouverymuch.
“But you’re so friendly!” people say. Yes, I am. And it’s only because I give myself the time to sort out my thoughts, to feel ready to interact with others in a meaningful way. If I don’t consciously give that to myself, I become prickly, sarcastic, and disengaged. And no one wants that.
I hermit down hard to recharge my batteries. My downtime is preferably spend by myself. I very much need to write, read, meditate, practice, create, take walks, and just be alone in order to keep a happy equilibrium in my system. I’ve always learned and studied alone as opposed to someone else teaching me, and I take a certain pride in traveling solo, moving, getting jobs and gigs with minimal assistance.
This flies in the face of what is expected and acceptable for most people. We are so ravenous for being engaged in a certain way, forced to be painfully social and extroverted in order to succeed, and plagued by the imposed search of a romantic partner to “complete” us. We suddenly cannot stand the sound of silence, sitting without doing anything, or we feel lazy if we have a moment to ourselves to fill with pleasurable, solo activities.
Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holy curiosity. Make your life worth living.
My autonomy is a refuge, a strength. In fact, a big lesson I need to learn in this lifetime is that I need to reach out for help more often, because no, I cannot do everything alone. Still, I’ve been called closed off, too private, too distant, not giving, afraid to connect. Partners and lovers find me difficult because I cherish my space, my ritual, my routine so dearly. What they don’t see is that my love is the opposite of enmeshment, and instead coaxes out questions and curiosities and self-exploration.
Sometimes, my misanthropic tendencies have made me doubt myself.
Do I need too much time alone?
Wouldn’t this be better with a partner?
Am I being selfish?
Even just typing that last question out, every fiber of my being says “Girl. Fuck no.” I don’t even have to get quiet to hear that loud and clear.
For all my love of being a lone wolf, this has been particularly difficult lately. The recent ending of a serious relationship leaves me wondering if I’ll ever have the ability to share my life with someone else, if a partner could love me in all my fierce independence. (Hello, requisite post-breakup insecurity.)
The way that my soul aches the most is in finding a teacher. I’ve sought a spiritual teacher for a very long time, craving the guidance and direction of someone who knows me, knows the path and can reflect back in that wise, numinous way that we all imagine spiritual teachers to be smothered in.
But such a single, spiritual teacher hasn’t appeared. Not in the way I imagined anyway.
This hunger within me has required a perspective shift, so here it is: Instead, many spiritual teachers have come to me. I learn so much by talking to my tribe, who are all my gurus in their own right. The strong women I work with create such a sacred space for transformation and are so devoted to receiving direction from the Divine that I can’t not soak up their essence like a sponge. I delight in my meditation practice, because I get clear on getting connected, what I need to do, what not to do, and how astonishingly blessed I am. My body, my soul: they are my teachers, too.
Maybe teachers are coming to me in a way that I understand. I will never invest all I have in a guru-student relationship; I’m too skeptical and headstrong to put such weight in something outside myself. Instead, maybe I’m given tiny morsels through many channels, leaving it to my own inner knowing to sort it all out.
Alone is not the “right” way, because a balance of solitude and togetherness is vital. I have my issues regarding giving and receiving, and I play with what makes me uncomfortable in those realms. I also know when I’m not ready to tackle that huge body of work; in the middle of a huge influx of growth in many ways, I cannot give the care or time that certain relationships deserve.
Really, I can only know that for now, alone is perfect. Soon, collaboration and connection will be perfect. The “right” way is to take it all in stride.