If I've learned anything in my endeavors, it's how to be okay when I'm completely, utterly alone. I never realized that a lot of people have issues with this - and I had it myself...I just didn't realize it until I was forced to face being alone, COMPLETELY ALONE, for a rather extended period of time. I never realized how much I was living for other people, how much I tried to make other people happy - even so far as to try to make them love me (either romantically or simply in friendship). There were even people I didn't even like, and for some blank reason, I wanted them to like me.
Throughout my life, I was this way. Always trying to make people like me. Trying to be what people wanted me to be. The truth is, WHATEVER and WHOEVER you are will always be a problem to somebody, some WART, in the room who, ironically, just has the same issue as you and deals with it in a different way. I was so quiet and sweet. That's not saying I'm not quiet and sweet now... I just have a spine. And it's made of iron and razor blades are embedded all along the outside. No touchy. I started realizing that, simply put, you can't buy people. They're always going to find something to bitch about. They're looking for negatives, and even if you were what society deemed as "perfect" (doesn't exist, by the way), they'd find something - anything - to nitpick.
Let me tell you a personal story. I'll try not to blabber too much.
I wasn't ever the popular kid in school. In fact, I was the target. I was the target for everyone's jokes as well as their - what I now realize wasn't my problem - dysfunctional reactions to whatever may be hurting them in their own lives. I didn't realize this at the time. I had relocated so much throughout my childhood and young adulthood, that I was constantly out trying to make new friends. I didn't want to be alone. No one does.
Kids threw pizza at me in the lunchroom. I got called fat on an almost daily basis. I was chubby, but I wasn't fat...and honestly, even if I was fat WHO CARES?! A person is a person, no matter what size, shape, or color they are. But these kids found it easy to pick on me, and I found it difficult to deal with. Long story short (and I go into detail about all of this in the book I'm currently writing) I developed an eating disorder. I stopped eating, and then I'd work out as much as possible when I got home. Looooots of cardio. I didn't go to break at school, and while all the kids were in the courtyard area socializing and snacking, I would hang out with my creative writing teacher and get to work on my next assignment and save my money. Writing those imaginative stories and talking with her was the highlight of every day. It only got worse when one of my favorite bullies sat down next to me in lunch one day to repeatedly call me an "Anorexic bitch." I was shaking, because 1) she was ginormous and could squish me with her pinky, and 2) I wanted to hit her because she wouldn't stop calling me an "anorexic bitch." I left the table, and I never went back to lunch. Consequently, I stopped eating lunch as well. Instead, I went to the library and wrote my papers for the dual-enrollment college English and Lit courses I was taking senior year. Moral of the story is when I was chubby, I got made fun of. When I lost weight, I got made fun of. No matter what you do, THEY - and by they, I mean people in general - will never completely approve and/or be happy. It took me years and years to overcome the psychological damage from that entire experience, and even still...it's like a mirror. You can put it back together after it has shattered, but it's still cracked. I still have a distorted body image, and I don't really know what I look like. I see my problem areas, and I rip myself apart, but I get to a point where I am ALONE and remind myself that being happy and healthy are what it's all about, not being as thin as humanly possible. It took me being alone to see that, though, and to be okay with how I think I look, since I don't really know.
Because of my immense lack of popularity, I would go home and work on music after hitting up the gym. Every day, I started making time to be completely, utterly alone. At first, this was scary. I didn't know what to do, and all I felt like doing was calling somebody or seeing if there was something else I could do or somewhere else I could go. Then I remembered I didn't have any friends, and that issue forced me to go through with my "Me Time." In hindsight, I am beyond grateful for every single moment alone I had, and I'm happy that I was forced into getting to know myself.
Being alone is where you get to know yourself. No one else defines you. No one else can influence you. Every decision you make is solely yours, and every thought you have is yours alone. I started writing a lot in this alone time. This is the way I wrote my first song. This is the way I wrote my first poem. This is the way I learned to play guitar and develop skills that hold me together at the seams in the present. I thoroughly believe, had I been "popular" (and there's nothing wrong with being popular, by the way. To each his/her own. I'm just saying that for me, it was this way.) it would have wasted all the time I spent practicing what I truly want out of life as well as instilling my values and making some pretty important spiritual decisions that I still cling to to this day.
I write this for my friends and fans out there who feel like they're the only ones, like they're alone in this world. You're not. There's just something bigger ahead. I just talked with a friend yesterday; she's an awesome aspiring artist and has been dealing with family issues and ex issues because she's gay. We got to talking about our careers and where we visualize ourselves in the future in one year...in two...five... She said something that resonated with me so powerfully that I have to write it down. She said, "Sometimes, the path to success is a lonely one." It may not ring true for everyone in every profession, but it's true for a lot of people, I think - especially the creatives.
Whether you are forced to be alone like I was or you actively make a choice to set aside x-amount of time for what I refer to as "Me Time," or if you've evolved from the former to the latter (me!), learn to be okay with being alone. It's okay to be uncomfortable. Meditate. Figure yourself out. Go through everything that is on your mind and write it down, break it down, and clarify what your thoughts, goals, and actions are. Being alone is okay. It's healthy, even when it seems like it sucks! It's protecting you from potentially wasted time. Every trial, every misfortune, everything that ever made you feel like you belong - that's why you do belong. That's why you're here. You never know what's just beyond the bend, in your future...whether it's six days or six years, I promise you it's worth waiting for, and it's worth any and all alone time you may be forced into. Be uncomfortable. Be okay with it. If you're never uncomfortable, you may not be living or you may be settling.
Overall, I think this blog has taken on two meanings instead of just "be okay with being alone." It's THAT, but it's also to accept misfortune as a blessing. I know I've written it sort of in-between-the-lines, but I hope you can see that that's what I'm saying here. A lot of times the misfortunes we face, no matter how big or how small - if they upset us enough - can force us into unwanted or unexpected "Me Time." I know I personally shut down and drop off the face of the earth. Take the damage, the hurt, that has been dealt and make it into something great. Take the time off to recharge your batteries and sort out your thoughts. Plan your next move. Plan the next step after you achieve your next goal. And the next one. And the next one. And keep GOING.
Remember, my first time in Hollywood was for The Voice. Nobody turned around. They told me I sucked and couldn't sing. My heart had never been so crushed before - not even by a romantic failure. I felt like I was going to die inside. I felt like I DID die inside for a while. I took time alone to shut down and heal. I wrote. I created, because that's all I know how to do and the only way I know to deal with heartbreak or any kind of emotional trauma. And guess what? BECAUSE I wasn't shown on that season, I wasn't under what's called a "Reality Hold" in a contract. I was a free agent. I had no idea I was going to audition for American Idol, and when I did, I had no idea I'd make it so far. If I had made it on The Voice, I would not have been eligible to audition the following year for Idol.
You never know what's just around the corner. Bad shit happens, but the night is always followed by the day - and even if it is night, so what? You've got the stars. Stay positive. Enjoy your time alone, for that is when you do your best work - the work inside yourself.