This past week, I went on vacation with myself. Notice I say “with myself” and not “by myself” because the point was to spend time with myself, reacquaint me to myself, and listen to the sound of my own mind.
It seems I am an extrovert whom life is slowly edging further down the continuum toward introversion. Now, it is solitude I crave, rather than company, although it may well be a bad case of forbidden fruit.
My home, my work, my multiple Venn-diagram overlapping communities, all jive beautifully with the extrovert I once was. And perhaps it is the heavy doses of socializing that have left me craving silence. Which is why, when I got a generous birthday check from a relative, and was wondering what to do with it (new boots? Dinner out with friends or husband?) it gobsmacked me in the face: solitude. Solitude will be my birthday gift.
So, I scheduled my vacation with myself.
My kids were very supportive. “You go, Mom!” “You deserve it!” “I’m so happy for you!” (They’re good kids.) My husband was, er, a little surprised. “You want to go yourself, as opposed to, say, with me?” I reassured him that I wouldn’t want to eat my favorite food EVERY day, and that vacationing with myself was about variety. Meaning: I’ve never done it in my life.
Friends keep asking me “so, what did you do?” It was only 24 hours so let’s not get all excited, and it wasn’t about what I did, although of course I did all my favorite things: read, attend a lecture, exercise, yoga, walk, shop, relax, eat. The point was that I was doing them alone; I didn’t have to talk to anyone the whole time. (I was even a little stingy about saying hi to people at the gym, but I prevailed.)
I didn’t have to confer with anyone about where to go and what to do, what to eat or when to eat it, how hard to play or chill. I didn’t have to answer any questions or take any calls or answer any emails. I could just be. Think. Process.
Every extrovert has a wall they hit when it’s enough. One of my kids appears not to have an extrovert-wall but I know it will appear eventually. My wall seems to be showing up sooner and sooner, knocking on my mind and telling me “enough!” I have to snatch my solitude in small doses like lingering an extra ten minutes in the car after dropping off my daughter at gymnastics or taking a walk by myself.
And although my birthday was back in August, I deliberately scheduled my vacay for after the holidays when I knew I could leverage the anticipation all through the holiday season.
Five years ago I never would have considered this a prize. I would have felt lonely and unmoored. So I don’t know if life has made me more comfortable with myself, or less afraid to be alone, or more in love with solitude. Maybe all of the above.
But this I know: I love being with my family. I love spending time with my husband. I love being in the presence of my various communities. And also, I love to be alone. But you can’t eat your favorite food every day, now can you?