A wise man once said to me ”Being alone is not the same thing as being lonely” I never quite understood what he meant until I started writing. Okay. There is no wise man, but it sounds more profound coming from said Wise Man right? Or maybe ‘My Sensei once told me…”, but then I would have to be Ninja for that to work, which admittedly I am not even though I often imagine myself as one. I digress. I don’t remember whether I actually read that or if it’s something the aspiring philosopher in me dreamed up. Either way it’s quite enlightened. If I could say so myself.
For as long as I can remember and well into my twenties I constantly looked for myself in others. In their understanding of me and their interpretations of my actions. With that childlike fusion of recklessness, enthusiasm, angst and blind optimism I set about playing with the Lego pieces I had been handed and tried to build myself into what the outside world thought I should be. But with a child like impatience I increasingly grew frustrated and unsatisfied with this process. I threw tantrums and destroyed that Lego set many times only to try and rebuild it again. It was a vicious cycle.
As I grew and matured I tried to find myself more in other people’s words and stories. I read more. I read voraciously. My reading was eclectic. Still I wasn’t satisfied. So I searched for the answers to who I am on the blank page. I decided to write my own story, a decision that birthed this blog. It has helped me pull myself towards myself. Over the last year I have taken it a step further.
In what might be viewed as a bid to channel my inner Darius Lovehall I started working on a memoir. A memoir I have tentatively given the working title Doing The Write Thing: Moonwalking With My Muse. An ode to my frivolous journey to define myself. The energy I felt has been intense and internal. Far from it being the stereotypical journey of the tortured genius that is the cultural mythology of the writer it has been about exploring the balance between escapism, nostalgia, clarity and inner silliness. My inner child has taken centre stage but I have directed the play. The process has been the biggest learning curve of my life to date. It has been the first time I have taken full control of my story and defined myself for myself. I have sat alone with my own experiences and I have made myself the superhero of my personal ecosystem.
Writing has taught me that there are some things in life that we are meant to go through alone. We must grapple with them internally. Drill down the issue to its root, and painfully tug it from the soil of our hearts until it can thrive no more. Distill cause from the effect, without the biased opinions of those who love us. Those who might inardvently define us. We must wrestle with our demons at night then rest our weary bodies on tear soaked pillows. We must do all this alone.
Being alone has allowed me to let go and to let grow. Writing has taught me that you can be alone and not been lonely. The absence of others definitions, stirred up things inside of myself I didn’t know existed. I found strength in strange emotional muscles, muscles that had hitherto gone unused. I learned to love myself from places I believed were closed. I revisited painful things in my past that I had long suppressed. I examined the baggage I had accumulated in my teenage years in an effort to fit in and recognised the horrible habits that have come to characterise my adulthood as just that – horrible habits. I learned the uselessness of emotions like guilt and shame. I emancipated myself of some of the things that enslaved me. It has been beautiful. It has been ugly. It has been cathartic. It is ongoing.
I know I still have much work to do, but I can also see how far I have already come. I have learned that I am never really alone. That the light is not at the end of the tunnel. That the light lives in me – it lives on the blank page.
Being alone allowed me to reflect on a bleak, frightening season in my life when I wasn’t sure if I would make it, but somehow I did. It has allowed me to find myself. One day I will write about this place and maybe when you read it, you will say “I had no idea, why didn’t you tell me?” I will just smile back and say “I had to face that alone”