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J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

"I Sling Words As I Go Along."

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solitary

So, In Solitude, You Can Hear Yourself Think…….

…….and that’s not as easy or as fun as it sounds.  Trust me on this – I am the over-thinker extraordinaire and getting out of my head is a task unto itself.  Embracing solitude and being alone with your thoughts can be intimidating or even frightening – my observation has been that those who fear or are uncomfortable with their own thoughts tend towards unhealthy or toxic situations and habits.  For me, solitude, being solitary and alone with my thoughts is as natural as breathing.

Also, thinking is how I get my brilliant story ideas, so at least there’s a trade-off.

I’m a solitary introvert with the occasional social tendencies. This means that, while I tend to prefer the company of Me, Myself and I, there are times when I also want to be in the company of others and share in conversation or experiences.  I’m also an Asperger’s, which may be why I’m comfortable with being solitary, but it’s also high-functioning and I’ve got the tools to navigate the social world.  Somewhere, there is a post about the times I enjoy socializing and the pros and cons of such an effort, but this is not that post.  This post is about solitude, why I enjoy it and the frustrations of trying to communicate this bit of joy to those who thrive on social interaction.

So, here goes.

Being solitary is my nature.  It’s something I don’t put a lot of thought into and it certainly never had a negative impact on me.  I’m free to entertain my own schedule and alter course as I please.  I can be as excited and energized over something I enjoy as I want – likewise, I can also be as introspective and contemplative as I want.  In neither case do I have to worry about a person being uncomfortable in my presence. [1]  When I go on my mini-road trips, I have no responsibility to anyone but myself and I am therefore able to see the details around me that would otherwise go unnoticed.

In solitude, everything can be seen and felt.

Details like dragonflies and hummingbirds flitting by; a sea otter playing in the bay; the sounds of gulls and seals arguing over property rights; waves crashing over a jetty; silence wrapping itself around you while walking along a dirt path; the smell of wet earth and the canopy of trees shielding you from the sun.

In my world, being solitary is heavenly, energizing in a way that I can only compare to working on a  play – which involves people.  There’s a kind of synergistic high as an actor when you connect with the audience and your fellow actors. The fact that I have a literal script to follow is an absolute bonus – as someone with Asperger’s, this allowed me to see structure in social interaction. [2]  This is probably the reason I thrived in theater for so many years – I had a literal blueprint for something that confused the hell out of me off-stage.  As an Asperger’s, having a script that told me what to do, what to say and when was a HUGE relief and it was probably the most social thing I ever did.  I not only willingly chose to participate with other people, but I also felt comfortable enough to keep separate at times without drawing criticism. [3]

Mask created by Robert Lamarche.

Being social in other environments requires me to wear a mask, so that I can at least pass for ‘normal’ – whatever that means. [4]  The pressure I feel to be just the right amount of social and Self in order to go out and mingle with people is so stressful that I’m already exhausted before I set foot outside my bedroom, let alone my house.  It’s sensory overload, or the anticipation of it, anyway.

How can I describe this, so that you, the person reading this, understands?  Because language is very important when communicating, I make an effort to find the right words.  I have many friends who are extroverts and thrive on social events.  I have an equal number of friends who are introverts and thrive on their own company.

People who are extroverts, and are used to being stimulated by external influences, may find solitude depressing or even frightening.  An extrovert friend mentioned something along those lines to me and I suggested that perhaps it’s because when you’re alone, you’re faced with yourself – no distractions, no filters, no smoke and mirrors.  Just you, your Self and your thoughts.

And that can be frightening – what kind of person are we when we’re alone?  Are we really the person we think we are, hope we are?  Or are we less than we hope to be?

It’s something I’ve reflected on, consciously and unconsciously, my entire life.  I’ve never been uncomfortable being on my own or alone, because that’s my constant state.  It has always been that way.  Do I want to share my world with someone?  Of course, I do.  But I’d like it if people would stop automatically assuming it’s because I’m lonely (“You need to learn how to be alone”) or that I don’t have a life (news flash – just because my life doesn’t live up to what you think it should be, doesn’t mean I don’t have one) or some other lame-ass opinion.

If I’m inviting you into my world, it’s because I think you’d not only enjoy it, but that you’d add to it, just as my presence might add to yours. [5]

Being alone is my preferred state.  I am not forced to be in a box to make others comfortable, I am free to be as elemental as I want and, while occasionally frustrating, my thoughts are perfectly suited as company.  I lack for nothing in my life as a solitary person – I have my own beat, I have my art and stories to research, I have horses and cats and the occasional foray into social interactions.  I also have my adventures to plan.

And the best adventurers are usually loners……with the occasional side-kick.

[1] I’m aware that what other people think of me is A. none of my business and B. who gives a fuck.

[2] Real life needs to be scripted. It also needs to be accompanied with a music score, so that one could more easily recognize certain situations for what they are.  A bad situation in alley is easy to recognize – a bad situation surrounded by people whom you know, not so much.

[3] I was once cornered at a table by two people whom I’d known for at least three years in the same social setting.  They knew of my Asperger’s and the techniques I utilized to take care of myself when feeling overwhelmed in social settings, and yet chose to be critical of me and those techniques.  My crime?  Sitting by myself, writing in my journal about the day I’d had, the enjoyment I’d felt and the people I’d chosen to share it with.

[4] I’m aware of the fact that others may feel overwhelmed and stressed in social gatherings, but they can either tell their own stories or be quiet. Dismissing and/or talking over someone who is opening up and trying to articulate their discomfort, their feelings and experience as best they can is disrespectful, to say the least.

[5] Before you make assumptions about someone, it’s best to look at why you’re making those assumptions.

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Evening Thoughts (2)

He waits, he watches.

1. Henry the Gray had a massive brain storm and spent a good amount of time racing around.

2. It’s a good feeling when you realize your most recent bully is more than three decades too late to instill fear in your heart, because you’ve met worse at the age of ten.

3. If you feel that you are ‘accommodating’ me because I’ve got boundaries and I’m insistent that you respect them, then you have no idea what the concept of respect means.

4. From October 31, 2016 through September 23, 2017, I was being bullied, harassed, sexualized, objectified and put into such a deep state of anxiety, that I would have a panic attack before I even walked in the door. This was despite my repeated establishment of what my boundaries were – not even an email worked.

5. Do not ever ask me to place my faith and trust in someone who willfully, actively and deliberately destroyed any reason for me to do so, just because he got his feelings hurt because I stood up for myself.

6. If someone tells me I need therapy one more time, I’ll ask, “Why? Because I’m comfortable talking about it or because you’re uncomfortable hearing about it?”

7. I know who I am.

8. I am a solitary person by nature. I enjoy my company and my thoughts and am quite happy to plot my next Unexpected Adventure on my own. If I am inviting you into my life or am participating in social situations, it’s because I WANT to share things with you and that I CHOOSE to be there, not because I am lonely.

9. There is a worm hole or black hole in my house – five times this evening, I witnessed Henry the Gray exit the garage, cross my room and go into the hall to the rest of the house. I did not once see him do the reverse.

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