The lonelies

orchid_stem4_lighter.jpg
orchid stem, Nikon Coolpix 4500

For me, one of the greatest challenges of having your own business (and working at home) is feeling lonely. I’ve started to notice more and more that my lifeline to the world is through the internet and this journal.

For the first two years I had my business, I was so lonely (and afraid of what I was embarking on) that I cried nearly every day. Nevertheless, something inside me knew that if I just stuck with it, it would be worthwhile. No matter how depressed I got, I wasn’t willing to quit.

After a particularly hard week, I spoke to a wonderful card reader/psychic I know in New Orleans named Lauren. I told her about my depression, how I cried uncontrollably every day, how I knew it was circumstantial, but I felt like I was becoming the crazy lady in the attic.

I expected her to agree with me when I suggested getting a part time job to get myself out of the house. I shared my “Clif Bar fantasy” where I get a job at a great company like Clif Bar that has yoga classes on site and where everyone loves their job. Instead she said, “Yes, you could definitely get a part time job. But consider that loneliness is just part of the deal right now. Sometimes you need loneliness to grow creatively.”

Something shifted inside me when she said that. What if there was nothing to fix? What if I could USE that energy instead of resisting it? What if I stopped trying to make it go away?

Almost immediately after that conversation, I felt more peaceful at work. I stopped leaving the house every time I felt anxious, I stopped making phone calls every time I felt alone, I stopped obsessively checking email. I tried to allow the loneliness as much as I could. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but having permission to allow it to be there, and understanding that discomfort isn’t necessarily “bad” was liberating.

I’m in a different place now. It has been three years since I started my business, I no longer work in an attic, and I only cry every once in a while. Don’t we all?

I still feel lonely at times. I still crave the outside world, and at some point I might choose that. But for now I’m satisfied with me, Superhero Designs, a little bit of loneliness, and you, who I love to talk to.

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.

LEARN MORE ABOUT ME >

24 Comments

  1. Kathleen

    I’ve also been running my business from home for the past three years, so I can commiserate!
    But when I think about how I could be in a corporate cubicle somewhere with some “cheeky” boss hovering behind my shoulder everyday…I cheer up!

  2. stef

    It’s so nice to not feel so alone out here in the world – your journal always provides a look out to everyone else and knowing that we all feel the same way sometime in our lives.
    Just sitting w/the feelings and letting everything just be is sometimes the best answer.
    Thank you for always sharing even when it’s making yourself vulnerable.

  3. Hannah

    Word.
    Word bootie. I so feel you on this one. It’s all about the process

  4. Julia

    Thank you Andrea!! Your journal entry today, came along at just the right moment for me. I am struggling with deciding to leave my profession, (teaching special ed.)… and beginning a new venture doing “art therapy” with disabled children. The lonliness aspect of “going it alone” and leaving the steady paycheck, and benefits, and wonderful colleagues, and my beloved “special needs kids…scares me to death! My fear is screwing up and being out there, falling with no “net” to catch me. But reading your words makes me feel like it would be much worse to let the fear of “aloneness” keep me from at least trying. Thanks for your inspiring and insightful words. You are a blessing.

  5. Allison

    I love this entry. I need to remember the line “Sometimes you need lonliness to grow creatively”…I sometimes forget.

  6. erika

    hey hey, low blow to us cubicle folk. I wish I was out of here though and you inspire me to do my own thing. So thank you.

  7. Morgan

    Andrea, thank you for your post today. It takes a lot of courage to let yourself be exposed and vulnerable to the masses. I’m living in Japan this year teaching english. Many times I have been lonely, away from everything comfortable I have ever known. I discovered online journals during these times and I feel so thankful. For a new spark was created in me after seeing beautiful online photographs and journals from creative, intelligent, brave women like yourself. I come from a society (family, friends…) who seem to “settle” for less than what they can have in this life. They may not feel the highs and lows of being brave and going out, discovering their dreams, but I think what they feel is much much worse. It is that everyday grinding away of the spirit that happens when deep down you KNOW you could have done better. If only they would have been more brave. So kudos to you for going out and being brave and doing something you wanted to do on your own.

  8. melissa

    Loneliness, yes. I believe that being an artist tends to put us more accutely in tune with such things. But our passion and joys tend to be more vibrant as well.
    I really love you, and I appreciate your work so very much. Many days you have (unknowingly?) given me just the words I needed to hear – a kindred spirit speaking with honesty and heart.
    Thank you, Andrea. Thank you.

  9. petya

    oh, andrea! i’ve been a fan of yours for a long time but your last couple of entries have been amazing! i was telling a friend of mine about how i really wished i were religious, so that i could just pray every time i felt desperate or alone. after reading your posts, i started thinking… if total strange like all of us here are able to relate so well to each other’s feelings…well, maybe god does exist…and works in mysterious ways. THANK YOU.

  10. athena

    andrea,
    this entry was exactly what i needed to read at the moment i read it. i just moved into my own apartment, and i’m feeling the absence of my roommate. even though i wished so many times to have the apartment to myself, now that i do, i’m sometimes at a loss. but it’s ok. i need to take advantage of all this new time and use it create all the things i thought i never had time for.
    thanks for sharing.
    athena 🙂

  11. Peppermint Tina*:)

    I am happy you had the courage to share your feelings…I am happier that people are careful with them, as they should be, and that you learn that you are not alone in feeling what you do.
    And being lonely, being alone, is not so bad as many think…

  12. azura

    Andrea, this entry was really uplifting and reminded me that everywhere, people go through similar experiences.
    I am in my 4th year of writing a thesis, living a reclusive no-office-to-go-to life, in a town in England, away from friends and family. My boyfriend, who I lived with for the past 3 years, and had been blissfully sharing tea& biscuit with during work-breaks was suddenly asked to move to Barcelona in March for work.
    I had bouts of loneliness before (working alone is not easy) but after he left – I became even more aware of the solitariness of my life! I did what you did “leaving the house every time I felt anxious, making phone calls every time I felt alone, obsessively checking email”.
    Thankfully, things have gotten better now. I am adjusting to being on my own. I dont check my emails 80 times a day anymore, nor do I make as many calls. I still do leave the house when I feel anxious and especially when its sunny outside and not raining (a treat). At home, I started to do things that made me (me!) happy – listening to jazz, reading comics, writing journal entries, drinking tea with cream, while/in between working on the thesis. I also discovered online journals like yours.
    I’ve been feeling more creative and inspired in general ..which led me to think that that this being alone thing is (in sum) is probably a good thing. Much time to reflect and hey, I end up feeling super positive. Of course some days still sucks – I do get needy. Thats when I force myself out of bed and try to rearrange my workspace to make it cheery and fun. Other days, I surf for news of people who inspire me and end up writing rambling comments such as this 🙂

  13. joann

    I love your journal Andrea! I can really relate to your feelings of loneliness. I’m the only child and often have to spend time alone while my parents are at work. Until today, I wish I have siblings. But I do agree that one needs loneliness to be creative. Just yesterday, I decided to pick up my colour pencils to colour again when I was so bored and lonely. I still feel lonely a lot now, but it’s a nice opportunity to do silly things that I can’t do when people are around, like dancing in a silly manner in my bedroom or singing out of tune. Sometimes I appreciate the space and time that is given to myself.

  14. tina

    yes, thank you.
    While I was reading this entry, I could relate to so many things that were running through my head for the past year. I couldn’t stand the lonelies and am not very patient so i did get me a job (well, I took one that was offered to me). and when I am home I still compulsively check my e-mail and see who is around on IM. I need to transfer that energy to stuff I actually need to get done.
    And I am in the process of figuring out if I want a roommate again or a whole place to MYSELF…
    Thank you for putting yourself out there.

  15. Jen Sebastian

    I also run my own business at ScoutDogstudios.com. I completely understand the loneliness and crying episodes as well. But i worked in the corporate world for many years and would not trade my current situation for anything. But the internet and weblogs are definitely a lifesaver to making a connection to the outside world. Thank you for being so open with your feelings and sharing them with all of us.

  16. nicole bruni

    I needed to read this today. I just moved out of state on Thursday and today is the first day I’ve had alone now that my family has returned home from helping me get settled. I am feeling extremely, extremely lonely and fidgety and I’ve been calling every friend I have compulsively so that I don’t feel so alone.
    I am going to try to put this to practice.
    Thank you.

  17. Jennifer

    Thank you so much for sharing this entry…what a difference it makes!! I actually recently got laid off from work, and one of the suggestions that my brother and sister-in-law had was to volunteer. I must admit, I haven’t really been focusing on things like the local homeless shelter or Habitat for Humanity or anything like that, but rather on some local museums and things. Any thoughts about that? And I also belong to a local hiking club too, which is totally fun. Not majorly difficult hiking, just 3 to 6 mile hikes around Central Florida. The people are really fun, really nice and enjoy having new people to meet. And on top of that, there are so many neat, natural places around Central Florida to learn about that I always mean to go to, but don’t for whatever reason…Anyway, those are just some things that help me…granted, it doesn’t help if it’s Tuesday, you’re really low, and your next hike isn’t until Saturday, but they’re definitely things to think about. Is there anything you’re interested in outside of work that could get you out of the house for a few hours each week? That’s what helps me (or even just going to a local bookstore for a few hours…).
    Anyway, good luck!!

  18. Lisa

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Andrea for your honest, open postings. I am in the process of going part time in my corporate job in order to really get my own creative business up and running. I have heard so many people say that one of the hardest things of running your business from home is the loneliness. I have been afraid to consider it even though I’m starting to feel it. Your posting allows and encourages me to feel it, accept it and get on with it. Thanks for being there.
    Cheers, Lisa

  19. stef

    We all have our battles and demons to deal with in this life. But your honest account of what you face encourages me, to look for my own energies and not be discouraged. Thanks Andrea!

  20. lisa

    oh yes, i’ve been so very much in the same ouchy place. and felt thick disdain for myself for the compulsive calling and email checking. quietly i suspected that if people knew how often i checked my computer, that would only serve to turn people off and further deepen my isolation. i am breaking through and realizing that my tenderness & desire for connectedness is part of what endears me to people. and that soothes the hysterical need somehow. teaches me to love myself.
    each layer of learning this strengthens me creatively.
    so much cheers, and sisterhood, and love to all of us, dears!

  21. lostsoul

    Andrea,
    I have enjoyed watching your success build over the years, and I am grateful to you for helping so many of us realize our own creative potential. Your entry reminded me of a poem I wrote years ago:
    The Bone-Lonelies
    Those yellow Bone-Lonelies bang on in sonorous Ones,
    bang Lonely on into my bones.
    Light bulbs in their round mouths glow up my bone dark,
    illuminate my marrow for an easier emptying.
    And do those Bone-Lonelies Moan!
    (For the moaning brightens their bulbs.)
    With wailing brights and moaning glows,
    they scoop out and steal
    pieces of me and
    deposit their Lonely.
    And of course they’ve hooks for hands
    and bright bald heads for the burrowing.
    They carry needles and Chinese fans
    (for pricking and scritching in comfort)
    to make colder bone blows in their
    Bone bonging Terrible
    I wish the Bone-Lonelies would go.
    (S. M. Brackney)

  22. Cori

    Wow! I can’t thank you enough for this entry Andrea. It’s so honest. My business is just 1 year old and I’m experiencing EXACTLY the loneliness, isolation and challenge you speak of here. And I’ve been trying to run from it in the VERY same ways — phone calls, obsessive e-mail checking, depression. It’s perfect timing for me to read your entry because I’m in a particular downer because my hard drive just crashed and I’ve lost 2 years of my work! I never backed it up!!!!! I know, a hard lesson, but I’m back up with a new computer and determined not to let this challenge take me farther down (and determined not to berate myself any more about not backing up). I’ve been humbled by this experience (and several other “challenges” recently) and am trying to see it in a kind of spiritual way for lack of a better description, and oh I’m just rambling at this point as I sit drinking my morning coffee…I really just wanted to thank you!!!!!! THANKS

  23. josie

    ooh! i love that picture!! its so amazing!! if you havent seen the movie adaptation yet…do yourself a favor and watch it!! its about orchids. the one and only Queen Meryl Streep is in it.
    ive recently [maybe 5 months ago] discovored superhero designs. [i found it through SARK. its been very fun to watch it grow in that short time. i love it!

  24. isobel

    I once read a quote from Elizabeth Cady Stanton in which she said that the reason women needed suffrage is because everyone has to battle the intrinsic solitariness of life alone.
    I think running your own small busines makes you look very clearly in the mirror of your self. There is no static noise to dull the idiosyncrasies of our personality. We are just there with ourselves, day in and day out. Being weird, being silly, emailing and calling instead of working on our life’s passion.
    It’s intense, but it’s also beautiful.
    Thak you Andrea for writing so eloquently about the loneliness we all feel.

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