I need a lot of space.
Not like in the form of a huge closet or two cars and a kitchen with an island, although I thoroughly enjoyed having a house all to my own. It’s a different kind of space that I need.
When I first moved in with my then-boyfriend, I was very clear. I told him I had a whole house going to a shared house, and as an artist, I needed a studio or room to create. We converted the one empty room into my work room. His mom came by to visit the one day, peeked in, and mumbled, “Well I guess her business must be doing pretty good to have a room of her own.”
I sat and justified in my head why I needed that room. I wasn’t making a ton of money. But how in the world could I live in a house with no space of my own? Where I shared the bedroom and the living room was always a lively party? I felt my whole body tighten. Was I privileged? Was I flawed in some way and couldn’t assimilate with modern society?
After lots of careful reflection I realized that as a creative person it’s mandatory to have that space to create. In fact, it’s much more than that. More importantly, you need the space to process life.
Most of my life I teetered between extrovert and introvert. On the Myers Brigg’s scale I was squarely positioned halfway between INFJ and ENFJ. As a teenager, I loved interaction. As I’ve gotten older and more sensitive, I have clearly made a home on the introvert side. One thing I am clear about is I know I am a slow processor. That part has been with me most of my life. I don’t just feel right away. I’m not one of those lucky individuals who cry on cue or reacts at the time. No, I slow stew, consider, take time and then feel. That’s why Process Time is mandatory and I forget that, often. I went from several years in isolation in my fairy castle among just the roses and the animals, to a full house of high energy kids and husband. When I first moved in it was a disaster. My room was noisy and often barged into. It became more of shared space for homework as time went on. I’m not sure how I survived from a processing standpoint. I probably didn’t. I needed to go somewhere and feel, what only I feel, and think. Thinking and pondering is a huge chunk of the creative process. I found an outside studio space I could rent for the day to go create, think and process. It was glorious…and short-lived. Turns out the space shifted to being a community space where folks could barge in willy nilly to use the printer. I was even shamed for wanting a private space! This was not much different than home. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Noting my discomfort, between studios and space-less, my resourceful husband find a solution around Christmas time. A fairy tent.
Yes, it’s meant for ages ten and up and I have to really bend to get into it, and getting out of it contorts my back into positions I probably shouldn’t be doing but it’s ample inside and roomy for my books and even a computer. And here’s the reward… when I sat in my fairy tent a miraculous thing happened, I had walls and space of my own. The children let me be (mind you, these are not little children, but over eight). They “got” it. Oh Ronni is in her fairy tent, she needs some alone time. And since it’s a one person tent…
I now have evolved to a converted studio space in the garage and I leave the fairy tent for the winter and emergencies, but this concept of space and its importance has really come up for me this summer. I keep overloading and having headaches because there hasn’t been enough of it with the kiddos home and camp stopped. I found myself apologizing for my sensitivity in embarassment AGAIN while I run to my studio, vs. swinging back to trying to be very “on” for everybody and social 24/7 and I can’t do it. My sensitive system keeps reminding me of that slow processing thing. I will feel upset or anger or even a thought will come in that I want to reflect on and there’s no time to do so. Worse, is I will get an idea for the book, and I can’t write it down or play with it. I like to be fully attentive to who I am with, thinking, absorbing and listening and then there’s no room for my own, there’s a really big problem. There’s an imbalance.
I am now convinced that every woman, and man, (and lots of children), should have their own form of a fairy tent, without excuses. If you are like me, processing time is non-negotiable. It’s how your system works. You fast processors, you might not get it, and that’s fine if you don’t understand, but you need to honor it. So go out there, my friends, or inside my friends. Last I saw Amazon had 20% off on a cute pink one.
And while you are buying your tent…If you enjoyed my writing, you will enjoy my Help! I’m Sensitive book series, available through me or on Amazon.com.