Tuesday, August 30, 2011

8/31/11—Being A Socially-Engaged Hermit

Today's Draw: The Hermit from the Bohemian Gothic Second Edition. Do you see yourself as a loner or an extrovert? How do you think the outside world sees you? And where do you get your energy—from solitude or from being around others?

The Hermit and I are friends. He represents what you'd think...time in isolation or solitude. He also signifies a quest for personal or spiritual knowledge. He travels through life slowly and deliberately, taking time to notice where he is along the way. He is pictured at night because he travels into the dark areas of the soul that, too often, we don't take time to explore.

I went out to dinner on Monday with a friend to meet someone she thought I'd get along with. The woman I met was a spiritual seeker, like me, and she was nice and funny and all that. So my friend was right. I liked her. As the three of us were sitting there yukking it up, the subject came up of me being a hermit and my friend said something to the effect of "this chatty extrovert calls herself a hermit."

So I've been thinking about this for the past couple of days. I've also thought about a hermit friend of mine in a far western time zone who may or may not be reading this while we're all asleep, as well as a whole group of hermits I hang out with on a regular basis (yeah, you heard me...like a hermit social club...haha). All of us, when we're around people, can be as social and charming and extroverted as the next guy, yet we all prefer to be alone.

I think over the years hermits have gotten a bad name. Sure, there are some that fit the stereotype of never wanting to see another human and building bombs in ramshackle cabins in the wilderness or have the scary unapproachability of the Hermit in the card above. But most hermits live among you undetected. It's not that we don't ever want to be around humans, it's more that we a) have no discomfort in being alone, b) enjoy our time alone, c) gain energy from being alone and lose energy from being in crowds and d) need to be alone to experience our feeling of balance and rightness in this world.

Speaking only for myself, I had to force myself to be social by attending networking events and parties by myself. Doing this pushed my boundaries and made more adept at engaging strangers. I did this partially for business reasons, but also for social reasons. I'm not afraid to go to things alone anymore and am able to hold up my end of a conversation. Some (most) would even describe me as downright chatty. What I'm getting at is that it's not because I don't have social skills or because I have social anxiety or anything like that. And it's not because I feel insecure about myself, nor is it because I don't think I need people. It's simply because I prefer time to myself. My favorite sound is silence. And one of my favorite activities is to be lost in thought in my own world.

My neighbors sometimes remark that they never see me or it seems as though my car never moves. I can see how it seems that way. Truth is there are strings of days when I don't go anywhere—I work alone and live alone. But the truth is also that I attend a couple of social events each week, read tarot in a retail store all day on Sundays and, of course, interact with my professional clients in person and over the phone on a regular basis. Yet I still consider myself a hermit, because, honestly, at all times I'd rather be at home with my pups by my side, "seeking". Even when I'm coupled, I like to spend a lot of time in solitude.

I'm sure there are plenty of married parents and socially employed folks out there who are also hermits at heart. Are you one of them? If not, do you ever take time by yourself for personal reflection? Where do you fall in the hermit/non-hermit spectrum?

No comments:

Post a Comment