“What is your greatest fear?” The question itself is terrifying. Recently, when asked, my response was clear and without hesitation, “Being alone.”
When I was a kid, I hated hide and seek because I always just wanted to hang out with my friends. Time hiding was time away from them.
In high school I played twelve seasons of sports, mainly so I could be a part of something and, again, hang out with my friends.
Currently, I live alone but I always have something to keep me company – whether it’s a Netflix episode playing in the background or a Spotify playlist filling up the silence.
One of the only times I am truly alone with my thoughts is when running. I run with friends from my club team a couple days a week and occasionally with the high school team from where I work, but most of the time I am solo.
I don’t run with music nor do I bring my cell phone with me. I don’t say this to brag or because I think I’m superior for doing so, it’s simply because I need it.
One of the most frustrating things about technology, is that I have something to distract me from my thoughts, at all times. I feel the worst about myself when I bring my phone to bed, scroll until I fall asleep, and then first thing in the morning – check for what I missed.
When I do this for a few days in a row, there is a physical manifestation. I start to feel worse because of all those hours of looking at the great lives other people are living. Even when my own is going great.
Being alone, on the other hand, has the transformational power to rejuvenate and remind me of my humanity. It’s an opportunity to reset, to re-group.
But it’s scary. When I am faced with my thoughts and forced to hear my own voice, I am confronted with plenty of time to review the mistakes I’ve made, the plans I have, and the promises on which I need to follow through.
Last week I was out for a run one morning and in my silence, I came to an important realization: most of the problems I have are created by me.
Self-doubt, insecurity, and envy. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.
My plan now is to spend some more time with these three. Be alone, and run with them, not away from them.