10 days alone in the woods with no talking sounds crazy.
A friend of mine, Andy, announced one night over cake and coffee that he was doing a silent meditation retreat. He had to disappear for 10 days and live on some crazy commune.
Wife: “I think he’s gone crazy. Should we still be friends with him?”
The idea of doing such a lonely experience makes people think you’ve lost the plot. Like you’ve got a mental disorder and have one foot off the nearest suspension bridge and are going to jump.
10 days later Andy came home from his retreat. He came back a different person. He had clarity, purpose, and most importantly, newfound calmness. All the go-go-go of his job suffocated his mission in life.
Not talking for 10 days and doing stupidly long 2 and 3 hour meditations gave him something indescribable.
Being called a loner
In school and early adulthood I got called a loner.
I used to lock myself in my room at home and make techno songs. All I wanted to do was rock a crowd of 10,000 people for 60 mins with a set full of my own tracks. The bedroom was where those tracks had to be written.
I watched music producers like Deadmau5 and thought “that’ll be me one day.” Some days I’d be up until 4 am or 5 am at a friend’s house.
We’d be rebuilding my computer over and over so I could install more synthesizer instruments and make better tracks.
My mom thought I’d lost the plot. My close friends who had started to get jobs or who were finishing university didn’t understand me.
The label “loner” got used a lot by people in my life. It used to hurt. I thought I might be weird or anti-social.
It felt like no one understood my obsession.
Time alone helps you work out what you want out of life
People are starting to realize time alone is a superpower.
It’s how you figure out what you want in life. It’s when you have the realization that a career isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. It’s when you realize employers are just businesses run by clever politicians. Work-life balance is what they all preach but nobody believes it.
Time alone is when only the voice inside your head is heard.
With enough time, that voice becomes loud. It starts to drown out other people’s priorities and make the path forward clear.
The need to always be with others to look cool
Being a loner wasn’t cool 10 years ago because it was all about being seen.
I’d go to nightclubs to make appearances. To shake hands and say hi to the DJ to show my importance. One nightclub gave me access to a private car.
It let me show up in a Bentley.
My friends and I would wear our aviator sunglasses and put on freshly dry-cleaned suit jackets.
But underneath it was empty as hell. We weren’t successful. We borrowed other people’s success. We got good at networking our way to be around successful people.
Ironically, being a socialite was the loneliest feeling in the world. Instead of doing big things we were pretending to have already done big things.
Time alone lets you build something spectacular after hours
Being a loner means you have more time to yourself.
Instead of being seen you can work on something spectacular. You can use the dark hours of the late night or early morning to channel all that creativity, imagination, and passion into something meaningful.
Loneliness is an opportunity.
It’s space to think and feel whatever you want without being interrupted. Some nights when I can’t sleep all I can think about is my big goal to help more people write online.
I have visions. I imagine my heroes joining the movement. I think about what it will mean for more people to have access to a greater number of opportunities. It makes me feel crazy. And crazy feels good.
Daring to dream is a skill we should never lose.
Being alone isn’t loneliness. It’s a secret rebirth in disguise.
Time alone is only loneliness when it has no purpose, when the alone time is spent talking down to yourself and attempting to have people feel sorry for you.
But purposeful loneliness is different.
It gives you extra time and focus to get your most important work done. You could even say purposeful loneliness is self-care. For me, I even feel time alone is the true meaning of freedom.
If I can be alone for a few days and not have anyone tell me what to do or force me to show up for meetings or a job, I feel less like a caged tiger at a zoo dying to escape.
Maybe all the social obligations are the real prison.
There’s a reason the great stoics, philosophers, and thinkers of the world loved the word solitude. It’s when they did their best work.
Your goal in life should be to spend time alone without feeling lonely. That’s when your life will slowly morph into something more beautiful. As writer Aaron Will once said:
Being alone is a power very few can handle.
Use loneliness as a tactic to quietly build your dreams in the dark hours and watch it subtly change your life.