When I saw her face I recognised her as a friend. I was walking towards her and extending my arms, smiling and saying, “Jenny, right?” before it occurred to me that she was, in fact, a total stranger, and just because I knew her face from the Internet it did not actually mean that we were BFF’s.
Kudos to her, my aggressive suggestion that we hug was met with good humour. That’s often the case, I’m finding. That when you act enthusiastic, you are enthusiastic: and that’s contagious.
So there I was, holding on to a woman whose work I’ve read on the Internet for about five years, marveling at the good fortune that in all of the co-working spaces in all of the yoga villages in all of the world, she’d walk into mine. Because she does what I’m trying to do: makes money from being her badass self. Shall we use the word “solo-preneur”? No? Oh, okay.
I was totally needy and made her agree to coffee with me and only retrospectively got embarrassed that I’d essentially assaulted her. God bless if she never set foot in the only space in Ubud, Bali with guaranteed wifi ever again, I thought to myself.
Whatever. I’ve hung out with her almost every day since, making her laugh at my jokes, because I love an audience, and answer my dumb questions about business finance and boys. Because spoiler? PEOPLE ARE JUST PEOPLE. So even when you’ve mentally established in your own self-limiting imagination that they’re somehow “other”, somehow “better” because you admire them… well. First lesson of 2015: that’s bullshit. I made a new friend, she’s awesome, and what’s more? She thinks I am awesome!
It should not come as the shock to me that it has. But alas, here we are and humbled I am. So. I’ve used it to make me braver. Because here’s the thing: it is utterly stupid to fly 15,000 kilometeres to the other side of the world alone, and then somehow conclude that that means being a glacier, moving through the world solo and icy and never in need of the support of another human being.
(she says, to herself, over and over again, as she lifts the weight of the world form her shoulders.)
It can be hard – approaching people. Moving somewhere where you know exactly no-one. At yoga I am so utterly intimidated by the tan-ness and bendiness and fucking zen-ness of most that every.single.time. that tentative, So, have you ever been to this teacher’s class before? sticks in my throat. But I’m getting better at it. Of being in 100% weird-stranger-awe of another person and putting my own craziness aside to reach out. Of knowing that I’m just being human. Humans talk to each other, right?
I’m not sure how I got so afraid of that. Of talking first. Of being open enough, comfortable enough, to squeak a simple “hello”. To make eye contact, even.
I write from a co-working space in a big bamboo hut overlooking the rice paddies, and it’s the same feeling there, sometimes. I’m convinced everyone is busy, has their shit together more than I do, etc. etc. etc. Long story short: I AM SO SICK OF MYSELF AND THIS IDEA THAT I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO IS AFRAID! I am not the only one! We’re all the same and all want love and to be heard and seen and who the fuck am I to think I am so special in my fear!!!!!
So I put on my big girl pants and say, “Hey, what’s your name?” apropos nothing and that’s one more face I know when I come back tomorrow.
And – here’s the thing.
Because of the culture here, because it’s meditation and yoga and early-to-bed-early-to-rise. Because it’s people who have chosen to life a life different to the one they’ve been told, and because nobody is from here: people listen. Engage. Follow up.
Are absolutely, fully present.
There’s an openness, a humanness here, that I’ve never experienced anywhere else in the world.
When I speak with these people, they hear me – but also listen.
And so I’m forced, through that kindness, to meet them on the bridge. To be here, now, in the moment, the conversation, the interaction. Do the same in return. I never realised just how much I’m only ever half there – acknowledging words but also wondering about what to have for my tea. Maybe that’s why striking up conversations is scary – because anything we do with half of ourselves is bollocks. There’s so much more liberation in being brave enough to give 100%.
Stepping up to the challenge of meeting all of these new, soulful, aware people, I am occupying my brain and my body and my soul and my heart in full capacity, maybe even for the very first time. And it means that even though I am so far from home, for who-knows-how-long, I have never, not once, despite being alone, felt lonely.
I’m all here.
Want to say something about this post? Talk to me!