I like being alone. I was thinking about it today, after listening to so many people talk about feeling lonely during this pandemic-induced isolation. My experience has been somewhat different. I can feel lonely in a crowd of 10,000 people, yet not lonely at all by myself. Isolation, for me, is a relief.
I love going to the movies alone. I love eating a nice meal at a restaurant with just myself and a great book or the New York Times. I feel overwhelmed with comfort and joy when I walk to the Will Call window at a Broadway theater and say “Price, just one.” There’s freedom and deep joy for me in getting to be present without having to be anything to anyone else. Maybe part of that is that I’ve spent – certainly my career – but also most of my life being a person other people need me to be.
When I write it down, it sounds weak, but it’s actually a bit of a superpower. I remember getting a call from a producer, telling me he had a monster of a jackass lead actor, and he NEEDED me to wrangle him for a network presentation. He said I was the only actress he knew who could literally get along with anyone and make this guy look better. Bad Boy Narcissists? Not a problem. Hair-trigger Abusive Addicts? Sign me up. Self-Centered Control Freaks? That‘s my specialty. I will never choose to work with anyone like that for an extended period of time (and, thank God, I’ve never had to), but I can – for a limited time – make just about any potentially volatile situation ok, both in life and in work.
You’d think I’d grown up with people like that in my family, but I did not. I was a very quiet little girl, surrounded by a ton of siblings and family who all, for the most part, got along. I think I just realized early that, having no clue who I actually was, life was more peaceful and I was happier when I simply gave other people who or what they needed. If I didn’t feel strongly one way or the other, what’s the harm in letting other people have what they want?
But it’s a dangerous road. As the chameleon perpetually adapts, it becomes increasingly difficult to discern her true color. Does she even have one? What color is she when she’s standing alone, surrounded by nothing?
I suppose that’s the road I’m on now – coming to know who I am, when nobody’s around. Analysis doesn’t help me. That just keeps me inside my head or inside someone else’s research, searching for THE ANSWER. The best advice I’ve ever received came from my dear friend, Nicole. I was stressed and anxious about an uncertain time coming up, and she looked at me intensely and said, “Stay curious.” So that’s where I try to live. On my best days, I’m curious about where I’m going and where the world is going and what’s going to happen and how I can help. On my worst, I’m trying to predict and control, and that’s pure crazy-making. Today, on my little brother’s birthday, I’m hopeful and peaceful, knitting a Christmas gift in my big, thick glasses and my favorite socks, and, honestly, I can’t wait to see what’s next.