If you’re trying to accomplish anything of consequence in your life, you are guaranteed to stumble into moments where you find yourself alone with no friends or family to confide in or relate to in any meaningful way. Of course, there is a virtually endless amount of coping mechanisms people throw around to teach you to deal with these predicaments. However, I don’t see many people, at least in my own circles, talking about the fact that there are situations where the only sensible choice is to willingly throw yourself into isolation rather than waiting for a sudden catastrophe to force you into it.
We actually see artists do this quite often to achieve some of their best work. Some have taken it to unreasonable extremes, but we can still use their example to influence what we do with ourselves. It seems like a fairly counterintuitive thought since we’re such socially oriented beings, but we’re also highly mobile beings — metaphorically speaking. We need to constantly move forward and sometimes that journey needs to take you through periods of isolation. Instinct may convince you that moving into reclusivity is not forward progress, but we’re well aware that instinct isn’t always correct. As long as you aren’t dying, instinct will try to convince you you’re fine exactly where you are.
As we get older, we should be changing for the better and growing mainly by developing new, meaningful interests and refining our sense of ethics and morality. The people you spend your time with should be encouraging this side of you without exception. The unfortunate truth is you may be surrounded by others who don't work to bring this aspect of not just you, but also themselves to the forefront. As if being pinned down by instinct isn’t enough, the sheer fact that your group is content with stagnation pins you down even harder and unwittingly so.
It is also a possibility that the people you are surrounded by seem to be moving, but in a direction that you find compromising to yourself if you choose to move with them. The solution to this issue is the same — you must remove yourself and accept that perhaps it is better for you to be alone in the unfamiliar than to compromise who you are simply for the sake of familiarity. There is a reason we should romanticize taking the road less traveled; it’s frightening because you truly don’t know where it will take you, but that fact should also excite you.
Take care to not allow the ego to convince you that the problem is always other people. You alone may be the reason you are decaying. What’s amazing about the ego is that while you are willingly festering in your own mental decay, it has the power to deceive you into thinking that your diminished state is everyone else’s fault rather than yours alone.
Having an internal conversation between who you are now and who you want to be is key to minimizing the influence it has in your assessment and helps you find clarity on whether you’re the problem or your group is. It feels pretty awkward, but much the same as physical exercises, mental exercises tend to feel that way if you’ve never done them before. This part is quite important because if you come to the realization that you are the problem, you have a duty to keep your issues from affecting everyone else.
Written By: Brendan Beaulieu