One of the keystones of the Artist’s Way is the regular practice of the artist’s date. In that, you go do something fun – by yourself. The by yourself part is absolutely necessary to the process, because it allows you to only have to check with your inner reactions, your inner drama, your ability to hear that creative voice. For me, as a 50/50 introvert, this is absolutely necessary. Every so often I just need to hear myself.
A tarot reader once told me,“You just don’t do shallow.” That applies to all parts of my life. When friends are around, they get my full attention. I work hard to treat everything they bring me seriously. That only stops after I’ve gotten fed up with a repeating destructive behavior pattern or behavior that indicates that this person does not return my consideration.
When I’m with other people, I tend to give them all my energy, all my attention whenever I can. It’s what I’ve been trained to do since childhood, somewhat to my detriment. So taking myself on alone dates – it’s useful. It means that I nurture myself with the some focus that I nurture others.
Now that I’ve been working through Julia Cameron’s various artist’s way related series for the past few years, I have found myself struggling between nurturing the artist within – who was damn near starved and ignored to death in favor of “toughing through” outer demands – or seeking and nurturing positive relationships.
Some of this, in some ways, is done for me. I’m something of a rarity in that I actually meet people online that often turn into “real” rather than just “online” friendships. I know how to leverage the medium to help that happen. While sometimes contact comes and goes, I am at least loosely in touch with people I’ve met over the years. So sometimes I can be alone – and still be legitimately social.
One of the more awkward parts of my commitment to the artist’s way is that my friends often want to accompany me when I mention my plans for a day. It’s partly social conditioning – women “need” a chaperone even if it’s labeled “girlfriend.” Few people do things alone, period, let alone for the sake of being alone.
When there’s someone who just wants to see more of me, sometimes the choice of activity conflicts with what I want for alone-time. There’s a local meetup group I’m a member of that does nearly everything I would choose as an artist’s date. It’s a huge group that meets multiple times a week. I’ve gone to one or two events, but the sheer volume of activity and people-meeting is too much for me.
The easiest workaround for me is to either socialize with other writers or do something where people need not speak much. So far shamanic dance and attending writer’s workshops fill those needs, but changes come fast. Sometimes, once in awhile, I do take someone with me – the tricky part is choosing a person who makes me feel all the better about the experience for having brought company.