In Solitude I Breathe

“Solitude is painful when one is young, but delightful when one is more mature.” ~ Albert Einstein

I once got into trouble with words
Unfiltered impetus started a storm
That went viral for days on end

I wrote bold and authentic in silence
I should have swallowed whole
Whilst I sat anonymous in solitude

for Poets United

Walker Bay, Hermanus, SA

On Writing & Living

Before there was such a thing as social media, I wrote a two/three-page vent that went viral, in today’s terms. I was a teen, at a boarding school, when a schoolmate said something that vexed me.

Because I always preferred to write than talk, I took to paper and vomited my anger leaving skid marks that caused an eyesore.

This is NOT one of my proudest moments. I hope the “victim” eventually found in their hearts to forgive me. Because it took me years to forgive myself from that experience. In fact, it’s the same reason, I was afraid to write and I was sure writing was not for me.

To cut the long story short, I was being authentic with my feelings as I could be in my naive youth with freedom of speech, in a time and space (South Africa) where such a thing was for a privileged few.

The lesson learnt from that experience? Being authentic doesn’t mean being mean or let my feelings run rampage. It’s a lesson that has come in handy even today, with novel writing.

When I feel like strangling a character, I go out into the woods in search of solitude. A space, where I can breathe and clear my mind.

And all this was inspired by Rommy, who asks us to talk about a time when being authentically yourself made things interesting.

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and creative professional. Her blog focuses on all things poetry and creative nonfiction.


  1. This post would have been right at home with last week’s theme too. I agree there are some truths that should be spoken, but you always have to be clear what the final goal is in speaking up. Is it to share information, dispel a misconception, join in a shared quest for truth? Or is it about being so angry that you have to find someplace/ someone to put all that excess rage in? Don’t get me wrong, sometimes anger is justified and needs an outlet. But I try not to kid myself about my motives for speaking. I really, really like this piece. It makes me recall times when I should have thought more carefully about what I was after when I opened my mouth. Thanks for playing along. 🙂

  2. An interesting read, Khaya. I love the Einstein quote, the poem, and the lessons learned. It sounds like an event that required an outlet for the emotions. I always write my way through things, too. Things make more sense to me on paper, or the screen, than out loud.

  3. Well, in youth we are learning when and how to speak our minds as we become our true selves. I like this sharing about you. We’ve all said or written things we regret. You’re not alone now – even in your solitude.

  4. Very truthful words! I remember, when I was younger, I was mad at my mom and wrote a long note out and threw it in the garbage. Well, the next day, my mom went to empty the garbage and out it came. We’ve all said things and we learn and grow from those things. I love the Einstein quote! Big Hugs!

  5. Love your poem I think it is quite healing to write down your anger and your problems Than destroy the paper We are always learning so it is ok to make mistakes

  6. Being authentic doesn’t mean being mean… some things have to be called out for sure..but there is power in taking the better road.

  7. I know right about last week’s prompt, I didn’t want to add petrol to the fire. 😀

    And you are right, one has to be always clear about the final goal in speaking up. I now, as a grown-up, get that. Even though it’s still easy to get excited, when you feel you are under attack and have to defend yourself. But we really have to take a step back and examine our feelings before making a spectacle. Thank for reading Rommy. 🙂

  8. Thanks Sherry for reading. I agree, things/feelings make more sense when written down. But it was never my intention to share those feelings. Only a mischievous friend, who thought it was all amusing went to great lengths photocopying the thing, and pinning it on notice boards around the school, thus getting me into trouble. I hope she grew up to be a publisher with that skill. 😀

  9. It’s a huge relief to hear I’m not alone with stupid things I’ve done in my youth. Thank Myrna for reading and understanding.

  10. I blame carelessness of youth. We should have burned those words right after writing them. Though venting is sweet, consequences can be rather bitter. Thanks for reading my friend. Big Hugs!

  11. Wow this is powerful, your poem as well your quotes and reflections. Good lessons are learnt in reflection.
    Luv the pairing of soulmates – Anonmity & Solitude, in your poem.

    Thank you for dropping by my blog


  12. I have a propensity to rant. I try to soft pedal but am not always successful. Interesting concept about authenticity. In my experience mean people do not wield a sword with any real flourish or accomplishment. Mean is somehow synonymous with inadequacy.

  13. The poem should be taught to every teenager (and many adults). Like you say in your notes, just because we one to be authentic it doesn’t mean we have to be hurtful. My grandma used to say, “Use your words properly. They will always tell people exactly who you are.” I believe that from head to toe.

  14. Soft pedals are needed Rall, to stall the speed. 🙂
    Mean can be synonymous with inadequacy, you are correct. And so, is authenticity as an intrinsic virtue of being real (in my case, with my feelings at the time). But all that vent came out as mean.

  15. Thanks Maga. I wish I had the wisdom to write that poem in my teens. That would have saved me a lot of trouble. That’s a great lesson from your grandma; a lesson we need revisit, especially when tempted otherwise.

  16. I don’t know whether I like poem or narrative more! I too have been cruelly and maybe dangerously “authentic” when I might have been kind, silent, or safely alone. I think it is a maturity realization … not meant for those who in their youth fought hypocrisy with the support of the entire free speech movement of the 1960s.

  17. Trust me, You have a great gift and even greater insight into life. Stay on your journey. Beautiful poem.

  18. An insightful write, Khaya. This is what growth is all about; learning from our mistakes and sharing those lessons learned. It sounds like the writer in you came out with a roar. You have since learned to control your power. Perfect.

  19. That’s a huge compliment Susan that you find both verse and prose appealing, thank you. Don’t even mention the “movements”. Youth is always passionate, and thank goodness we grow up and learn.

  20. Panchali you have no idea how much your words “Stay on your journey” mean to me. There are times even now, when I just think “Who cares about this writing of mine? Why bother?” But I persist because the story burns. Thank you so much for reading!

  21. That’s probably true I came out with a roar, and I’m almost glad I didn’t pursue writing then. Because it would have surely landed me into more trouble. As the saying goes, “Some things happen for a reason, and they make you a better person.” Thanks Viv for reading.

  22. I never used to think before words poured out in a nasty note. There are many I would like to take back, but we are all guilty of this. That’s why they call us grownups now!

  23. Khaya, I was taken by your poem, its power and almost anger, wondering where those feelings came from. Your explanation explains a lot and you learnt a very hard lesson … and I can understand how your actions stayed with you for a long time. Yet, naivety and youth should come into the equation. Your note recalls a time when it wasn’t just social media that can cause upset.

    On one occasion I was walking back to school after lunch break and I was telling a friend a ‘secret’ … one that affected a person I cared for. Turned out that person was behind us all the way, heard everything, told their friends. For years we didn’t talk … a loss to us both and my fault. I was gutted.

    Seeking solitude out in the woods is the perfect restorative … off to Sweden tomorrow and can’t wait for the peace of forest, lakes and sea! Warmest wishes and good luck with your novel! 😀❤️

  24. Hi Annika! You are correct, I learnt a very important lesson; the power of words. How they can be both a sword and healing. As an adult, and especially in the age of social media, I have also learnt how not to be emotionally reactive.

    I can also relate to your youth experience, talking about someone only to find out that they are within earshot or talk about them in a language you think they don’t understand. It can turn ugly. I guess the lesson for all of us is to always cultivate more compassion.

    I wish you a lovely and peaceful Easter break in Sweden. If you do come again in summer, please let me know. We could arrange to meet for coffee in Stockholm, one day. <3

  25. Scars… how time heals them? We could write from polar ends, you and me… yet, we write!
    I find it interesting that go out to the woods to find the strength for killing a character. I too, need the solitude of a long walk to work out story lines! The partly written of part two of my first novel needs some character killing – I have done so, years ago… after hearing someone quote something about “killing your darlings”… don’t know who said it! Should we take joy in killing our darlings??

  26. Oh yes, solitude is a must for me. There’s so much “noise”, one needs to take time out and breathe.

    Good luck with your novel writing. Looking forward to reading it one way. 🙂

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