Leaning Into Solitude

Leaning Into Solitude

I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone.  You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.
— Oscar Wilde 

Amen Oscar. A-freaking-men. Although I am thinking Oscar was referring to relationships here, are life quotes not fully subjective? The best quotes to me are the ones that transcend topics. The ones that make you think and the ones that hit you the hardest at the exact perfect time. 

Oscar’s quote popped up in my Instagram feed while I was sitting alone in the lobby of a hotel in Kansas City the last week of the 2017 baseball season while my husband got some sleep upstairs. The irony is just too good sometimes. It's like life just sits there and pats itself on the back for a job well done. 

Self reflection to me is like a swift kick in the pants. It doesn't happen very often and at first you might resist it but when you give in you realize you needed it, not unlike sleep for adults. 

The baseball lifestyle mixed with the unknown and sporadic life of being a model and actor leaves me alone quite frequently. More often than I truly care to admit. If I had to be honest I spend more days/time alone during the baseball season than I do with people. 

I am gonna go ahead and just remove the time I spend with Andrew from that equation because 1. It doesn't really count and 2. It wouldn't really change the outcome. From long flights, to uber drives, to dinners alone before games and walking around strange cities, the list could get pretty extensive. 

Even when I am at home or working, going to acting classes and auditions, I am, you guessed it, alone. Driving to and from LA on a daily basis, sitting in audition waiting rooms and having lunch in between the previously mentioned, it's kind of the exact same thing as when I'm traveling for baseball. Not to mention most of the sets I walk onto I know maybe one person if I'm lucky and we have worked a job together before. 

If you are thinking to yourself “oh good lord woman we get it you are alone a lot”, OKAY! The kicker of it all is that I didn't even realize that all of this was my reality until I read that quote that morning in Kansas City and wondered why it DID NOT BOTHER ME one bit to be alone as much as I am. 

My understanding is that most people have the opposite problem. They don't want to be alone or they are constantly around people, be it at work, at home, with their kids and husband, or they choose to constantly surround themselves with friends and acquaintances. 

Sitting there I wondered, why am I no longer, if ever, affected by the mass amounts of time I spend doing things alone that most people would much prefer and usually do with someone else accompanying them? Am I immune to something that I should not be, has my lifestyle forced me into a mental solitude that is now my comfort blanket you wouldn't dare rip off of me?! Woah! Maybe that was a bit dramatic but you see where I'm going with this. 

Should I be spending more time with people and making more of an effort to do just that or is it healthy to spend time alone? Is it okay that spending time with people or finding myself in crowds now gives me a certain level of anxiety and discomfort? That I would rather sit alone in a hotel with my husband or alone than venture out somewhere that will be busy and bustling with crowds and forced interactions? 

Truth be told, I DON’T FREAKING KNOW!!!!!!!!!  

I don't know if there is a right or wrong answer here BUT what I do know is that I enjoy alone time and embrace it, something I've come to understand most people fear or avoid. Since I was child I have been very clearly independent, just ask my Mom, or don't, you might be there a while. (Love you mom!)

I never had a problem going places alone, walking into sports practices alone or doing something that was different from the crowd. I loved team sports and they were a huge part of my life all the way through professional soccer, but ask me what I love most about sports and my answer would be a solo kick ass workout. To this day I prefer working out in my garage over group fitness. 

I used to spend hours upon hours alone in my backyard kicking the soccer ball against the wall to practice my “first touch.” Much to my parents annoyance. I am of the belief that being alone and partaking in all of life's adventures solo has simply enhanced the parts of me that were already there.  

As wives of professional athletes we all have one thing in common and that is a unique understanding of what it means to live this lifestyle. We are the ones who experience the day in and day out blessings and hardships that are brought on by a lifestyle SO few human beings will ever truly be able to understand. Being alone a lot definitely falls under that category. 

The goal here I think when it comes to being alone, is to recognize the benefits it can have for you in an otherwise overwhelming, fast paced, ever changing, consistently inconsistent lifestyle.  Something that could be viewed as a negative or a hardship could actually be one of the greatest blessings if you lean into it and embrace it. 

Being alone brings me silence. It brings me peace. It allows my mind to come to a place of acceptance. To accept that no matter where I am, what I'm doing, how hectic life has been, this moment is here, now, and there is nothing that is going to change that. I get to choose what that moment is going to consist of because there are no outside factors influencing my mood, energy and overall happiness. It also allows me to hear myself. To hear my thoughts, hear my needs, hear the things my mind and body are asking from me that otherwise would get passed over. 

Being alone and doing activities alone can actually be quite invigorating. It can teach us that we are capable of handling life, that we can problem solve, overcome and adapt without the input or help of anyone. What an absolutely empowering situation to be in. 

How many times as wives have you been stuck in an airport or in a city alone not knowing a single soul? For me its too many times to count. Over time I have realized how capable I am of handling any situation that arises and how to be calm in the face of chaos and uncertainty. Knowing that there is no one there to fix my problem or comfort me has forced me to consistently rise to the occasion and simply “get shit done”. 

Nothing like being stuck at the airport with the baseball team already in another city and no flights out till the next morning or driving your husband's huge truck from California to Arkansas alone and having it overheat in the heart of Texas! HELLO scary Motel 6! Something that could easily be viewed as a negative or feared because of cultural ideations is actually in my opinion one of my biggest strengths as a person. 

Fearing being alone is only a problem if it turns into loneliness. That, my friends, is a much bigger issue I know. Being alone though is something we should definitely be embracing and seeking to understand.

I’m sure the levels of anxiety and discomfort I feel when in forced interactions, needing to make small talk (and without a doubt failing miserably at it), or in larger crowds is a side of being alone so much but I'm not convinced its a bad thing. Is it something to be aware of and make sure not to fall too deep into the anxiety pool? Yes definitely. 

Like all things in life it is about balance. But I think the goal here is to find the positive and the good in something that is an inevitable in this lifestyle. Can it get lonely? Yes. Can it get frustrating? For sure. Do you just want someone to handle all your flights for the month? ALL THE TIME. Yet handling all of these things alone has inevitably turned us all into stronger, more independent and more capable women than we already were. 

Not to mention all this alone time allows us to learn so much about who we are at our core, how we interact with the world and for me at least how much I actually like myself. That might sound weird but it's true and I know someone else has to have had the same thoughts. Aside from making sure we don't mistake loneliness for welcomed alone time, I see this as a blessing and a way to continue to grow as a person and understand fully who we are when we are no longer under the constant influence of outside forces. 

I hope this will encourage you to embrace this aspect of our life and find ways to lean into it and make the best of it.  

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