Sanctuary

Truth - Complete and utter silence is a rarity in this world. We spend our lives constantly on the go and take little to no time to just be, to be present, to be real, to be one with the world instead of trying to master in. There's so much noise in lives. Distractions abound, pressures build, and stress is constantly weighing us down. There always seems to be more that we can do, but to what end? When does it stop? Will it ever? There has to be some place for us to be alone with ourselves. Where is your sanctuary?
 
"Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character."
James Russell Lowell
 
 
There seems to be this generational fear of being alone. It's this oddly striking thing others say to me. "I don't like being alone. I'm afraid that I'm going to end up by myself. I'm bored out of my mind." I realize that we go through this abrupt change where our environments shift. We grow up surrounded by people, at the very least our caregivers if not siblings, other family, friends, and community members, then at some people we strike out on our own having been made to be used the all the noise, the racket, and the constant presence of others. We never learn to be alone with ourselves. We don't know how to just be. It's weird because it's different. A family member was always just down the hall or a roommate just in the twin XL bed above us. All of a sudden, we're by ourselves and it's both terrifying and exhilarating. We take a second to listen and hear nothing by the soft sound of our own chest rising slowly up and down. We hear the bangs and clangs of A/C running, the whirs of a fridge, and buzz of a light but they are foreign to us - white noise in the neverending asynchronous harmonic melodies of life. What do we do with ourselves? Why are we so uncomfortable? We never learned to make our own sanctuary.

That learning there is of the utmost importance. It is truly a learned skill to be comfortable with not only being by yourself but even more so with who you are. I solemnly swear that liking, respecting, and loving yourself is one of the most difficult and yet satisfyingly rewarding things that we can do for ourselves. I think way too few people actually do it, and do it well. We spend all this time working on relationships with others but all but disregard the one we have with ourselves. Who we are should not depend on our relationship to others. When we are left to our own devices who are we, what do we believe, and why? Growing accustomed to the silence is so necessary. Support has its place but being able to console yourself, to find solace, and to relish in peace is critically important. A dependence on others strains your relationship with yourself. What are we afraid of? Maybe ourselves if we cannot learn to live when we need to in the solitude of going solo in our sanctuary.
Thinking about all the times I didn't go places because I was too concerned with what others would think of me makes me cringe. The only way we improve our relationships with ourselves is if we take them seriously. Go on self-dates, treat yourself, and do what you want. Eating by yourself is on a whole other level but going to see a movie at the theater, spending an afternoon reading the library, or taking a walk with nothing but the comfort of yourself is not only bold but healthy. Explore a museum, volunteer, or have a solo dance party - anything that let's you get reacquainted with you is worthwhile. Our lives are not dependent on others. Sometimes the biggest things holding us back is ourselves and the perceptions we think others will have of us. The opinion you have of yourself though matters most. If you like you, that's something you always get to have regardless of who comes in or out of your life.

Find your sanctuary. Where is that place that makes you feel most special, invincible, and safe? Is it on your couch with a pint of ice cream and Netflix playing your favorite movie? Is it under the covers rereading your favorite childhood book cuddling your stuffed animal? Is it in the shower where you belt tunes as if your livelihood depends on it? Find your place to think. Find your mute button when the noise gets too loud. Find your peace when chaos rages on around you. Find yourself and never let go. At the very least take time for you to be alone with yourself. Each morning before I roll over and check the weather and clear my notifications I lay in bed for 15 minutes thinking about my life, who I am, and what I'm doing. I think about and speak aloud at times something I'm grateful for. Sometimes it's just to be alive, breathing, healthy, fed, clothed, and housed. Sometimes it's for who I get to be and how I get to show up for others. I start my day and just go. At night I do the same thing. Those short moments are things I cherish. I greet myself as an old friend and go calmly into a slumber. If quiet makes you uneasy, find your music and let it wash over you. Headphones in, stereo all the way up, and beats going. Listen and be moved, changed, and overcome with the sounds strung together. Everyone has a soundtrack to their life, in your sanctuary, it plays all the time. X

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