Photo by David Sherry
I tend to disappear for extended periods of time. At first, it was a trait that wasn’t as glaringly obvious as it has become today, but slowly my friends and colleagues began to recognize that I tend to fall off the face of the earth quite frequently.
Obviously, I still feel fully present in my own day-to-day, but the idea of “keeping my head down” and grinding through my work feels quite literal. The ability to isolate and churn out unbelievable amounts of work has been the very attribute that has led to my success in my niche of the design world. While I can recognize and sympathize with the benefits of a more extroverted lifestyle, the nature of my work has forced me into an intensely introverted state. People who know me well would never characterize me as an introvert, and it feels like a blatant lie when I describe myself as such. But, the reality of my current operation shows all of the tell-tale signs of a chronic shut-in.
In the past few days, I’ve found myself emerging from my cave for an uncharacteristic amount of sit-down conversations with friends and fellow creatives. I’ve learned that after I panic through initial dreaded small-talk, I quite comfortably nestle into deep conversation. There’s a part of me that’s so deprived of quality conversation, that I’ll quickly cut the crap, and get straight to the good stuff; The “How are you really doing?” type of questions.
For the past couple years, my regret in these types of conversations is that I feel like I’m in no condition to have those feel-good dialogues that many expect. When I used to answer “How’s it going?” with a quick but honest “Fantastic!” I have found myself with only the ability to muster up a “Eh, I’m alright, I guess..”
Part of the reason that I stay isolated is because I don’t want to have to be the Eeyore of a conversation. But, I also don’t want to lie to anyone. So, if I commit to getting coffee, but also want to stay honest, I may not be able to muster up the “Fantastic!” response that I once could.
The good news is that none of this is permanent. While my work setup breeds isolation, my current life transition is a black cloud that doesn’t look like it will pass in the immediate future, but definitely is not terminal. Not to bore you with details, but my current state is a mix of blessings and inconveniences – some of the most annoying first-world problems that can be thrown at you.
Basically, we sold our house which we loved, to build a house on a dream property that we love even more. The in-between involves ripping us from our old house and shoving us into an apartment (which we hate) while we wait out the construction process. My life is only about saving up money, and little else. The more I isolate, the more work I get done, the more I can save, and the sooner construction gets underway. That’s life for this 2-year process that I’m currently smack-dab in the middle of.
I am not here to complain about any of that. Ultimately it is an enormous blessing after a decade of tireless hard work. I’m immensely thankful and grateful.
My frustration is the areas of my life, work, and personality that I’ve had to sit on the back burner: Inviting friends over for dinner or games, thinking up new business ideas and doing them, starting something new, sitting on a back porch without staring neighbors in the face. I’ve realized that so much of my happiness was attributed to having an environment that was conducive to creativity and new possibility. My big ideas don’t fit so well into this cave.
So, more than anyone else, I can’t wait for my radio silence to be over. I can’t wait to have the mental clarity and optimism that I once had. I can’t wait to have an environment that will allow me to carry out these ideas that have been bouncing around my head like lottery balls. I can’t wait to come to back life.