I’m still here.
I listened to what my body and spirit were telling me and took some time away from life as I was living it to turn inward. I was growing restless from all of the voices being launched into the world. I was growing weary from all the pain slinging that seems to be behind so many interactions today. I needed refuge from the outer world to survive it, and I felt the call to listen to my own voice which was getting drowned out.
It was with no small amount of guilt that I stepped away from the world at the point that it seemed to need me the most. The world feels as though it’s on fire and instead of trying to extinguish the flames, I sat with myself and listened to my inner voice which told me to work on myself. I disconnected from many things like the news, social media, and blogging. It's felt necessary and I believe it’s been fruitful. I’ve come to realize it can be an act of courage to listen to your inner voice and do the very thing it’s telling you to do, especially when it can seem like you should be doing the exact opposite and the collective voices in the world are calling for everyone to take action in a very public way.
By turning inward and listening to my inner voice, I’ve come to learn that what the world often needs from me is for me to be my best self, for me to continue to evolve, to be a more fully realized person. The process of continually becoming the more evolved version of myself is what I am meant to do on this Earth. I believe it is what we are all meant to do as human beings. Sometimes that evolution takes place in a public way, by making our voices heard, and through acts of social justice. For me, the public and private versions of myself feed off of each other. I need time for contemplation and personal growth for me to become a more effective public person, one who can lend her voice and energy to issues that matter to me. This often means that there are spells where I am a fully private, contemplative person and there are times where I have bursts of being a public person who is out in the world in a very loud way (or at least loud as it feels to this introvert).
This public and private life cycle works for me, but I always struggle with taking the time to turn inward. I often consider it selfish to allow myself the time to work on my own evolution, even when the pull to do it seems irresistible. During these times, I find that I ‘should’ myself too much. I reach for comparison to others to tell myself that I’m not living up to my full potential, that I'm failing as a citizen and member of the human race. I tell myself I should start a movement like Tarana Burke or be a visible voice for change. These comparisons leave me feeling conflicted and irritable, as it puts me in direct conflict with my own inner voice. I'm working on honoring my own truth and sometimes that truth calls for me to be reflective and to take a step back from public life. I often need to remind myself that turning inward to work on myself is not the easy choice. It's often the hardest work we do in our lives, to look inward and work through our past and address our shortcomings as human beings. Our culture doesn’t reward inner work or contemplation and I can’t help but think that if we did, perhaps we wouldn’t be facing a world on fire.
I’ve had to work at allowing myself the grace to turn inward these last several months, even though I can see that this time has born fruit for me personally. I will likely continue to need to learn this lesson again in the future, as is often the case in life. I am grateful I’ve allowed myself this time to grow and evolve. I feel as though I’m on the cusp of returning to a more public life. Maybe my voice will be stronger and kinder now when I re-enter the world. I know that when I do choose to return to a more public life, I will be a different person than when I left. I’ll be a more fully realized version of myself and I owe that to listening to my inner voice and granting myself permission to turn inward.