Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

SOLITUDE

SOLITUDE

Do not whine.
Do not complain.
Work harder.
Spend more time alone.
— Joan Didion

Dear Hadley,

For the past week, I've felt stuck. Slow. Stagnant. Sleepy.

Even writing this simple letter feels unusually hard. I'm typing from bed. My brain keeps telling me it would rather think of nothing than string words together.

This feeling isn’t frequent, but it is familiar. I used to beat myself up over the inability to magically snap myself out of it. With time, I've learned to accept these lulls as part of the natural ups and downs of living an alive life. I keep reminding myself to ride out this recognizable wave of slowness, knowing that it always breaks before ever settling into my bones. Still, acceptance isn't the same as bliss.

I was talking with two friends about it and they each said things so thoughtful and perfect that I wrote them down so you can have their words as reminders when you need them, too:

"There's nothing to solve right now. Give into what you're feeling. Your body: trust it."

"Resistance is just another form of digging in. So whenever you inhabit that space you’re in, just be kind to yourself. Give yourself the space to be you. Give yourself stillness. Stock up on things that are nourishing."

And so from the depths of my sleepy stagnation, I’ve been trusting this feeling and thinking about the things I find most nourishing. The things I can give to myself to recharge and reclaim the me that feels most me.

Eggs and avocado.
Clean sheets and extra sleep.
Favorite books and familiar words.
Long runs along the lake.
Most of all: Solitude. 

Of all the things that nourish, time alone is my most reliable. I crave quiet, space, calm. When I get enough of it, I'm more capable and considerate. When I don't, I'm the least creative, least generous, least likable version of myself. 

Maybe you won't require as much alone time as I do. Or maybe you’ll need even more. The only way to figure out how much feels right for you is through trial and lots of error. Once you know, make room for it.

Choose it.
Plan it. 
Trust it.
Most of all: never be afraid to ask for it. 

You can’t expect anyone to need what you need. And you can’t expect anyone to know what you need, either. Your own needs are your own responsibility. So when you need space, speak up. 

Protect your right to solitude as fiercely as you would your right to eat or sleep or play. Because time alone gives proof that you are whole. And knowing that you are whole, all on your own, regardless of what's happening around you, forces you to take responsibility for your whole self — even the ugly parts (don’t worry, we all have them).

Resist the mindless convenience of filling your own gaps with the noise of others. Instead, give yourself the space you need to fearlessly face the parts of yourself that live below your shiny social surface. Consider whatever it is you're wrestling with and take the time you need to work through it. This is the starting point for real self-reliance. Self-respect, too. (Two things that start with self but sneakily work to make you better for others.)

As you get older, try to consciously surround yourself with people who have also put in the work required to like themselves deeply enough to be fearlessly alone. Appreciate them, even if the amount they like to be alone is more than the amount they like to be with you. I've found that those same people are the ones who make themselves available in the most meaningful ways. There’s incredible satisfaction to be found in relationships built on a mutual respect for the necessity of solitude. 

Eventually, I hope you find someone with whom you can be alone, together. Someone that makes you feel safe and calm when you feel quiet and contemplative. Until then, know you’ll always have me. And nothing would make me happier than sitting by your side, saying absolutely nothing.

I love your whole self, Hadley.

Love,
Aunt Liz

Hadley, your mom sent me this picture a few weeks ago. You'd just had a big tantrum, fighting so hard you wore yourself out and slept through dinner. I love it as a reminder to give in to whatever you're feeling. And to send yourself to sleep when a recharge is in order.

Hadley, your mom sent me this picture a few weeks ago. You'd just had a big tantrum, fighting so hard you wore yourself out and slept through dinner. I love it as a reminder to give in to whatever you're feeling. And to send yourself to sleep when a recharge is in order.

LITTLE THINGS

LITTLE THINGS

QUIET

QUIET