A survival strategy for when you re-emerge from social isolation.
I have lived most of my life in hiding.
Whether it’s that I was put into hiding as a child because my mother was sick or that I now hide in my bed once a month as an adult because I feel generally overwhelmed by the concept of Other People, I have learned to hide and I’m good at it.
Right now, we’re all in hiding.
From my interactions I can tell, some of you are bored, some of you are hyperactively fit or creative or in some sort of problem-solving state and some of you are incredibly afraid and/or enraged at all times.
Most of us are a combination of all those options.
It seems that no one wants to hide forever which shocks me because I love hiding.
I am a concealment queen.
I am currently writing a new book on the evolution of human concealment, obsessing over the history of hiding and, though I don’t have time for citations in this particular article, I want to draw from my own experiences of hiding to discuss the outcomes of your concealment.
Please note, all of these theoretical conclusions are based on the assumption that you are not being hunted.
I do not expect right now that, if you are reading this, you are camouflaged in mud and hiding in a basement, holding a rifle, wearing a helmet, drinking whisky and mumbling something like “they aren’t going to get me”.
Although, if that is you right now thank you for taking a time out to read this article, I hope I can help reassure you: Once you’re free, you’re free.
Freedom can be overwhelming. That’s why we love to hide: There’s a reassurance of smallness, restriction, limited possibilities.
When you hide, either something finds you and catches you or…not.
You are psychologically preoccupied, focused on a single task. There is no one calling you to check on your progress or your health or your “day”. You are confined physically, restricted in thought but free from people.
Most people do not like being free from social obligation.
Social obligation keeps us healthy.
Social obligation keeps us concerned.
Alone and hiding we become anxiously self-involved. Which is ok for now. No one else is around.
But, what about when we have to deal with each other again?
What do we need to survive our socially-deranged future?
Here are my five tools for a sane re-emergence:
- A Smile
All humans fantasize when we are in hiding.
Fantasy, imagination, storytelling, these are survival tactics for us. When our stories or dreams are shared properly, they diffuse. You know, wake up, go to work “I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud but I think I’m going to become a graphic designer and go work for Disney.” Someone chuckles and stares blindly at you. Dream dead.
Alone, in hiding, our dreams incubate.
Right now, we are all hiding at the same time, rendering ourselves into myths.
I encourage this tactic.
Become a legend, in your own head, in your own heart.
When you leave hiding, you’re going to need something to become again.
You’ll be interacting with people again in social spaces for the first time and you need to prepare yourself for the question “what have you been up to?”
Give yourself a floatation device.
Don’t worry about the present state of the world and your life. If you feel like a failure, perfect.
Prepare yourself for renewal by creating a dream version of what it looks like for you on the other side of hiding.
Even in freedom, we cry. Sometimes we cry even more because not on ly is the sudden experience of free will is overwhelming but also the memory of captivity or concealment is infuriating.
Pillows are necessary to cry into.
They are also necessary for throwing.
Get pillows. Buy them used. Steal them. Get them.
When all the world is grim, music will carry you to safety.
I am by no means a hip music smarty pants.
I listen to the radio via iTunes and I don’t even listen to anything cool. I usually listen to the “Spa” station in the jazz category because that is what jives with me but, music can really lift the heart and take the day away.
Most days, after hiding, are long and confusing.
By the end of the day, you’re in need of a departure.
Wearing headphones is a dope way to melt into your bed or couch or floor and forget…
People will disappoint you. You will be irritable.
Take some time to practice your smile, you’ll need it.
Or, if faking a smile is not your thing, practice telling people how you feel
When we’re in hiding, we can readily express any and all of our feelings because there is no one around. Or, if you live with people, you might have the opposite experience where you have to suppress your feelings in consideration of the people who are trapped around you.
In any case, our relationship to your feelings changes when we’re in hiding. As soon as we’re free, having to communicate in a responsible and reasonable way is weird, scary and irritating.
Practice. Practice smiling.
You will need to be patient with yourself when you come out of hiding.
Re-emergence is a healing process. It takes a long time.
Invent a method of congratulating yourself for small things.
You’ll need to be firmly on your own team when you’re back in the world. Be proud. It’s ok to be proud.
I would love to hear about the plans you have for re-entering the world, or the fears you may have. Please send me a message on Facebook, let me know you’ve read this blog and tell me what you’re worried about facing once you’re out of hiding.
Good luck, protect your happiness and, if you feel like throwing things, throw a pillow.
Take good care,