Being alone but not lonely
A few days ago, I wrote Writing is a lonely life, talking about the challenge of the lonely, workaholic life of a writer. Since then, a number of people have asked me how I keep from being lonely and isolated.
The truth is that people are hard.
"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." -- Jim Rohn
You must pick these people wisely because they will affect your personal success.
Writers use themselves, their history, their creativity, and in some senses, their life blood to generate a story. The people they spend time with influence every detail of the story.
Hang out with Doubting Thomas, and you'll find that writing gets harder and hard to do. Happy hour with Drunk Dave, and you'll find yourself drinking more as well. Spend an hour with Dramatic Delilah and you'll be too exhausted to write. Even hanging out with in Foggy Fred can leave you feeling puzzled and confused.
So not only is a writer's life lonely, but we must choose carefully we spend time with as they will affect our writing and our careers!
What do I do to keep from being lonely and isolated?
1. Pick carefully.
Once you take on the challenge of being a writer, you can no longer let people chose you as their friend. You must be diligent on picking who you want to be around.
And who do you want to be around? Successful people who are interested in growing, and failing, and learning, and laughing, and achieving. Healthy people who attempt to eat well and exercise regularly. People who don't complain too much. (Yes, they exist.)
Can't find any? Start being this type of person yourself. Take a Spanish class. Learn how to cook. Join an awesome exercise group.
As for the complainers? You know who they are. Just avoid the toxic. My advice? Clear out your social media accounts of Debby Downers. Give yourself a week or so and you'll become resensitized to negative attitudes. Start clearing them out of your life.
2. Find social activities which include exercise.
You have to go where achieving, successful people hang out. One place I've found them is at social activities which include some kind of movement.
We take ballroom dancing once a week. You'd be surprised at how many awesome people we've met ballroom dancing. Why? Because it's a great way to connect with your spouse while hanging out with people who are interested in connecting with their spouses.
Not interested in dancing? Try QiGong or Tai Chi. Join a tennis team. Masters sports teams such as swimming and running, have awesome people involved in them. Team in Training is a great way to meet people and get ready for a race. I bet if you put a little time in, you can come up with something that works for you.
3. Learn to keep things light.
Small talk is incredibly, deeply, and truly boring. At the same time, if you want to survive social situations without affecting your writing, learning to be light is a great way to do it.
How? Pick a few light topics. The weather is a big topic in Colorado. Ask people about themselves. Talk about gardening or bees (yes, you should have a beehive) or trees or... The topics are endless.
Keep the big topics for your work. Keep your social interactions light.
4. Deepen my relationships with the five people who influence me.
While I keep my acquaintance, hanging out relationships light and friendly, I'm not afraid to dive deep in my closer relationships. I want to have difficult conversations with people. I practice listening and hearing without judgement the people I'm closest to. When I hear people clearly, it's easy to connect on deeper issues.
One way we do it in our house is to set up meetings. We go to the Central Denver Library and meet over issues in their study rooms. It gets us out of the house and out of our comfort zones. We have butcher block and pens. We've been able to work through all kinds of tricky situations this way.
I truly cherish my deeper connections. In this way, I draw people closer to me, enjoy them more, and in turn, I don't feel lonely when I am alone.
5. Get to know myself.
"Know thyself" is one of what was called a Delphic maxim, a maxim given to an oracle by the God Apollo, and is carved on Apollo's temple of Delphi.
When you know yourself, you will never be lonely - because you have yourself. Successful people journal to get to know themselves. Robin Sharma suggests as little as 20 minutes of journaling in the morning can make the difference.
I believe we live in lonely times. The battle to connect is only made that much harder through technology. Social media gives us the sense of connection without the depth we need as human beings. In many ways, it's like eating junk food. Eating junk food leaves us starving for nutrition. Social media leaves us incredibly full of people while starving for connection.
I also believe you deserve to live the life you want. Good luck
This month, I will attempt to share thirty thoughts about writing - one a day for thirty days.