The Independence of Solitude

Akiff Premjee
July 28, 2020

One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self-Reliance:

"It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."

I have always come back to appreciate this quote ever since I first read it in high school. So much so that I have old Facebook statues dedicated to it.

I still feel the same way. The "perfect sweetness" has always been hard to achieve. Now more than ever, we all have so much going on. We have responsibilities at work and at home. We have social events to attend (via Zoom of course) and side projects and newsletters that we want to build. Social media has forced us to highly value what others think of us or put up a wall and turn off completely. We have strayed away from the "perfect sweetness."

I had a rough weekend this past week and I know that I'm going to have a tough week ahead. I've been going to the hospital early, waking up with the sun and going to bed well after it does. I've decided to sacrifice sleep to accomplish and do more. It's been overwhelming and finding time to just process my thoughts has been hard.

This past weekend though, I found myself on a walk. I was outside and just felt like talking, and so I did. I talked to the world.

And the world talked back.

Okay I'm kidding. The world didn't talk back but it did feel really nice to talk to the world. Taking those few minutes to just put my thoughts out there felt so nice. No one was listening to what I was saying but it felt good to say it. We all carry weight with us as we go about our days, and I was able to relieve some of it by just talking to no one and getting my feelings out. Self-therapy I guess. I don’t know if it will work for you, but I highly recommend you try it.

I started writing this newsletter to talk about ways we can grow. Using apps and productivity systems is one way. Understanding the world and acquiring knowledge is another way. But the most important thing we can do is to look inwards and understand ourselves and make sure that we are giving ourselves a break too. Don’t be absorbed only in what others think of you or what’s going on around you. Don’t cut yourself off entirely and become a hermit. Find that “perfect sweetness.”

I'm a believer in delayed gratification and that life is a marathon and not a sprint (I mean duh, I'm in medical school so delayed gratification is all I have. Plus loans I guess. I digress.). As you're going through the journey make sure to think about the balance, the "perfect sweetness." Right now, at least for me I'm not doing enough internal reflection, so I started doing small things for myself like biking to the hospital in the morning and walking back at the end of the day to have some me time. I'm making sure I keep up with writing each week just as a mechanism to get thoughts on the page and send them to people on the internet who appreciate my writing enough to subscribe (btw have you subscribed?!). We're all at different places in our journeys but it's important for us to be mindful and think about balance.

I hope you have a good week.

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