Saturday, April 16, 2022

Happy Hermit 2.0

    In 2019, I took early retirement, and became a hermit. I was burned out, and had been for years. I had very little understanding of why I was such a hot mess. During my almost 3 years as a hermit, I have learned more about myself than I ever did before. Especially, I have learned about neurodiversity, and gained a much better understanding of how my brain and nervous system work. I've gotten more aware of what my quirks are, where my weaknesses are, what my inborn vulnerabilities are, and how to take the weight off them so they don't drag me under. I'm learning to take the weight off of my weaknesses, so that I can lean more into my strengths and begin to thrive.

    So a few months ago, I realized that the burnout was over, that I had recovered -- and that I was starting to get bored. I needed a new challenge, something for my mind to dig into, something new to learn, a new way to grow.

I didn't know what, I just knew that I was at a point where I needed to expand in order to keep from shrinking. So after one last pointless argument with my landlord, I made a rather impulsive decision to move ... from Maryland to Spain. I had no real plan beyond that, but my spiritual director was totally supportive of my crazy decision, so I went ahead and jumped. 

    I got to Spain on February 4, and in the middle of finding a place to live and getting all the 1,001 things done, I tripped and severely sprained my ankle. The injury had the beneficial effect of keeping me mostly at home for 8 weeks, where I have begun to focus seriously on mapping out the next phase of my life. I've reached out for more intensive guidance to some of the teachers who have taught me the most about myself and about neurodiversity, and have been spending time really developing a vision for my ideal future.

    I find that I still really want to be a hermit. I moved from a cabin in the woods by a nature preserve to a high-rise city apartment -- but it turns out, I still love silence, solitude, simplicity, and maintaining the foundation of prayer and meditation for everything else in my life. That is my first priority: to tend to my own well.

    I think that the next most important thing I need to do, in order to keep growing and not shrinking, is to begin to share what I've learned in the hermitage with other people who are struggling in the world. In particular, I want to help neurodiverse adults learn to understand, accept, and scaffold their weaknesses, so that they can be free to lean into their strengths and thrive. There is a great unmet need for this kind of work, especially for late-diagnosed adults, especially for the "gifted" neurotype, and especially for twice-exceptional or twice-marginalized people. 

    I have a vision, that I think is feasible in less than five years, of a new hermitage sharing property with retreat space; of a part-time counseling or coaching practice serving diverse, neurodiverse adults; and of reaching more than those few one-on-one clients by becoming a better writer. I don't know everything it will take to get from here to there, but I am taking some of the first important steps. And as long as I keep the future vision clear before my eyes, I trust that the rest will fall into place along the way.


Happy Easter!

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