I keep waking up.
Not because it’s cold outside or because my dog likes to pace around my tent, but because the person sleeping next to me keeps getting closer and closer and I am being pushed into the bottom corner of the tent with barely any room to move. The tent is pitched on a slight incline. It was one of the only spots left and it is in a secluded spot with epic views, so you make sacrifices. Right now, that sacrifice seems to be sharing my tent with someone and letting them sleep on the top of the incline, all for the sake of being able to spend the night outside.
My biggest regret isn’t that we pitched the tent here but that I even invited someone to begin with. There is something special about going to sleep alone under a million stars and then waking up in silence as the sun rises the next morning. It’s like a secret between you and the universe, and sometimes people ruin that. They want to talk like 13-year-olds until you both fall asleep, and then they want to talk some more when they wake up. Or worse, they want to complain about how cold it is or how uncomfortable they are. This person is that person. There is a time and a place for that person but on a ridge above Big Sur at 6am is not the time or the place.
As a woman, when you tell people you are going camping alone they usually pause for a beat and then ask again who you are going with or if you are sure that it’s a good idea. They look at you like they have never even heard of camping, let alone doing it alone. There is an implied assumption that, as a woman, you need a man, or at least another person, to go with you. There is often a look of pity that suggests that because you are going alone you must be lonely and single; you must want to wake up next to someone, but you don’t have the option. I decide willingly not to invite people. If I really wanted to wake up next to someone, I would.
[bctt tweet=”You could call me an introvert, but mostly I really cherish my alone time.”]
I live alone and move through a lot of my days alone. You could call me an introvert, but mostly I really cherish my alone time. Regardless, there is a certain amount of okay you have to be with yourself in order to camp alone; there is a certain amount of okay you have to be with yourself to be willing to wake up alone every day for months (or years). Something about late nights and early mornings can bring out the loneliest feelings in people–those times tend to be when our thoughts chase us the most. It takes a little while to be able to confront those thoughts and not let them get the best of you. I’m not saying I am never lonely, but I find a lot of peace in waking up alone…in starting my day in silence without conversation and with the possibilities of a new day laid out before me. There is freedom in being alone, but sometimes it takes getting a little uncomfortable to find it.
[bctt tweet=”Morning time is when I appreciate the routines of my life the most. “]
Morning time is my favorite time, whether it is on the side of a mountain or in my apartment. Morning time is when I appreciate the routines of my life the most. I enjoy waking up by myself, looking over the side of my bed to see my dog still sleeping soundly, and then being able to linger a couple moments, warm and cocooned in my blankets. I like getting out of bed and taking my time: walking my dog, reading a couple pages in a book, making coffee, eating breakfast, meditating, practicing yoga. It’s the best part of my day and I do not particularly want to spend it with other people. My days are filled with being surrounded by people; exerting myself physically, concentrating on writing or my business or the sequence I am teaching. Sometimes the early morning is the only chance I get to be alone with my thoughts and without an agenda.
[bctt tweet=”Being outside only intensifies my desire to be alone.”]
Being outside only intensifies my desire to be alone. I have had a lot of amazing experiences with people in the woods, but most of the truly memorable moments in nature I have experienced have been on my own. The problem isn’t the people in my life, because they are good people. I just do not want to talk to them in moments that deserve silence. Maybe one day I will meet someone who is worth changing my routines in order to wake up beside them. For now, though, I’d rather sleep alone–and this desire was never more real to me than it was at 4am on Prewitts Ridge, smushed up against the fabric of my tent by a stinky boy and an anxious dog.
Molly Haight is a San Francisco-based yoga teacher, trail runner, business owner and dog momma. When she isn’t doing yoga, you can find her camping with her dog or leading trail running and yoga retreats through her company Adventuring Soul Retreats. Find out more at www.adventuringsoulretreats.