It’s official: I’m jobless! Steven and I just moved out of our apartment in Ithaca and back home to Wellsboro for a week before we venture to the southwest. This is a welcome little reprieve from the stresses of transitioning. As I sit here at my parents’ kitchen table enjoying a nice cup of mint tea, I’d like to take a moment to reflect upon solitude as a blessing and an integral part in shaping me into who I am today by building a healthy relationship with myself, developing my intuition, and fostering my independence and confidence. Without these integral attributes, I’d surely be a much different person.
The truth is, at the very heart of my being I’ve always been somewhat of a lone wolf. For me, nothing is more satisfying than curling up in a hammock on a warm summer day with the breeze on my face, a contemporary novel in my hands, and a glass of homemade iced tea at the ready. I live for the days where I may venture into the woods donning running shoes with just my thoughts and an innate sense of direction to guide me. In short, existing in solitude has always been my modus operandi, because nothing is more draining than to be constantly bombarded with conversation and compromise. When I’m alone I am free to do whatever I want, whenever I’d like, and however I’d like to do it. This is not to say I despise company and that I am a friendless, crotchety hermit scorning society. I’m just saying I primarily like being with myself, because as weird as it sounds, I’m my own best friend. I attribute this to growing up in a relatively small corner of the world where the deer outnumbered the people. But seriously, I find it absolutely necessary to love myself first, because I’m the only person I’ll always be with for the rest of my life. So many people put so much emphasis on finding the perfect significant other, but I find it more imperative to be able to live with myself. No one else can be expected to fill in those gaps where self-love should be. And no one else can.
Now that I’m moving away from home for good to a sizable city, I recognize the absolute necessity of alone time and complete solitude. In a world where everyone seems to be vying for my attention through ads, persuasion, or programming, there is little opportunity to listen to my own thoughts. With so much information being fed to us 24/7 through every possible venue, it’s a wonder anyone can sit still long enough to complete a thought. In spending so much time alone as a child and adolescent, I was afforded the opportunity to develop and maintain not only a relationship with myself but also to build my intuition. It’s impossible to hear that hushed little whisper in the back of my mind telling me to make sure to leave the car windows open lest I lose the car key during that 10-miler through the woods while Facebook is screaming at me to look at the photos from my freshman-year roommate’s European vacation. There have been countless times where my that inner-voice has miraculously saved me from a more dire outcome. There have also been regrettable times where I ignored that little voice, and I ended up kicking myself later for it. To develop a fine-tuned ear for that ineffable inner wisdom, it is crucial to spend time without distraction. I have to set aside time for it. The more time spent alone, the finer tuned the ear may become to inner knowing. And the more this inner knowing is used, the more confident I am in using it to guide me.
Spending time in complete solitude affords not only these luxuries I’ve previously mentioned, but also it fosters a sense of independence and confidence that cannot be matched. Often I’d find myself setting off for long rides through the bucolic countryside with nothing but my thoughts to entertain me. To drive off in a car with no destination in mind taught me to be wholly unafraid to rely upon myself as a lone resource. With no GPS or map to guide me, I relied upon mere memory to get there and back again. With each successful journey, I became more and more confident in my own abilities to function independently, and my confidence only fed my need for independence, a positive feedback cycle.
And here I am now about to go off again on my next journey. As intimidating as it is to move to a whole new state, let alone a whole new clime and time zone, I am ecstatic. I embrace this change wholeheartedly. I feel gratitude for every little part of my life that has shaped me, but today I am especially grateful for solitude. Solitude has given me so much more than I ever could have thought in the moment. Thank you, solitude, for making me feel comfortable being just with myself, for allowing me to develop an ear for my inner voice, and for fostering my confidence in independence. The skills I’ve gained from being left to my own devices for much of my upbringing will undoubtedly aid in a successful transition and beyond.