Peter McGraw talks to Kerri Baillie, a member of the Solo community, about her transition from single to Solo. Join the community at https://petermcgraw.org/solo/
Listen to Episode #186 here
Frequent readers know that I like to highlight remarkable singles from the SOLO Community. I’m consistently impressed with their perspectives and powerful voices, which I also highlight in the form of Love Letters to Solo in my forthcoming book, which is available for pre-order on Amazon. In the previous episode, Kriss Rita and I highlighted some of those letters.
Our guest is a writer of one of those letters, and though this is our first time speaking, I already feel like she’s a friend. I’ve gotten to know her as a member of the SOLO Community, which you can sign up for at PeterMcgraw.org/Solo from her Love Letter to Solo which made the cut and will appear in the upcoming book. Welcome, Kerri Baillie.
Thank you, Peter. That’s a lovely introduction. SOLO has become quite a big part of my life. It’s validated a lot of internal thoughts and feelings I’ve had about my life as I’ve gone through it. A little bit about me, I’m a 51-year-old woman this 2023. I have been pretty much a lifelong solo. I have always felt solo, but I didn’t have the language to describe what it meant to be a single woman because we’re not supposed to be single. We’re supposed to be married and have children.
I’m not doing the program, “What’s wrong with you?” It’s a lot to fight against. To find this community has been very heartwarming and validating. I know you said that before. I am a public librarian. I get my quota of children and people interaction. That’s more than enough for me. I am always keen on learning new things and trying new things. This interview is right on my edge. You should be proud of me.
I talk often about living on your edge. We’re on edge because we were going to do this as truth and truth, then I last minute said, “We’re going to have a conversation.” One of the things about your letter and your post on the SOLO Community page often highlights something that you alluded to, which is that you possess this comfort with your singleness and soloness, yet people have opinions about it, negative opinions often, and they feel quite comfortable telling you that. I’m going to quote a little bit from your letter.
You said, “I have brightly colored tattoos and dye my hair a variety of candy colors, usually a variation of pink. I did this in my early 40s, and it felt like I had finally transformed how I see myself internally to be reflected in my external self. I was told, ‘You’re brave. A lot of men won’t like that.’ My reply, ‘I do this to please myself.’”
It’s through the encouragement of another friend of mine who is a fat activist. She’s a very plus-sized woman and has dealt with the consequences of being a fat woman in society. Watching her navigate life has been incredibly illuminating for me to see that, “I can live as my authentic self.” She would color her hair. I thought, “She’s awesome,” then she also has some gorgeous tattoos that I used to admire. I had always wanted tattoos from twenty. My thing was that I couldn’t quite decide because tattoos are a fairly permanent thing. I wanted to be happy that I could live with the design. I jack-knifed up in bed one night at 2:00 AM with books. Books have been the consistent thing my entire life.
I talked to my friend Kath, who is an activist, and she said, “Let’s go to Victoria.” That was her artist. She did a brilliant job. I’ve got three pieces from her. They all have books in them. They bring me a lot of joy every time I catch a side of them. All of that has made the external match my internal. At the moment, I don’t have pink hair. Have I had a reaction from everyone, even the lady down at the Woolworths, “Where’s your lovely pink hair?” “I’m having a rest at the moment, and I’ll be back at peak soon.” It’s well-received by a lot of people. The first time when I started many years ago was when I got a lot of pushback, “You are very brave.”
There are two ways to say you’re brave. The one is, “You’re brave,” and the other one is, “Ugh, you’re brave.”
You can tell the difference. I have had pink hair pretty much on and off for the last many years. People know that it’s me. Deal with it. I shut it down pretty quickly if I get a negative reaction. It’s not raised anymore.
This is not a negotiation. I’m not soliciting your input. I was having a conversation offline with a frequent guest, Iris Schneider, who had a Truth and Truth episode.
She’s wonderful. We’ve been having a lot of conversations about our professional lives and talking in metaphors all the time and so on. We were talking about reinventions. I like to encourage people, if they want to reinvent themself, one of the best places to start is with a physical reinvention. Your hair is one of the easiest and fastest ways to reinvent yourself because it sends a message that you’ve made a major change.
Your clothes are the second. Oftentimes, your body is a third. The last one can take some time to make a change. That’s a very exciting thing to do. I went through my own reinvention by growing a beard and adding Stetsons to my fashion repertoire. I feel like a different person because when I look in the mirror, I see a different person than before. I congratulate you.
Thank you. I’m having my natural colored hair and like, “That’s not me. I want my pink back.” I am giving my scalp a rest from the whole bleach and dying that is required. I’m thinking about some of the easiest ways to reinvent yourself because I’m a public librarian. I deal with a lot of old ladies. They always come up to me and go, “I love your pink hair. I wish I had the courage.”
“It’s a bottle from Woolworths, put it in your hair and see what happens.” The easiest thing to do if you don’t like it, it’ll fade. It’ll wash out. It’s like, “I couldn’t do that. My kids wouldn’t like it.” “Who cares? It’s your hair. Do you want to go to the grave and not try something easy, simple, and a little bit of fun?” I don’t get what the big deal is, but for some people, and particularly for women, hair is a touchy subject. I’m like, “I’ve had a buzz cut, and that felt liberating.” You can say it’s not flattering or it doesn’t look good, but did I care? No, it grew back.
You did it for yourself and you experiment it. Iris and I were talking about that. I was like, “Have you thought about shaving your head?” At least you should wonder, “Might it work?” I had a member of the community ask a question of you. I posted that we were going to be talking. Sylvie, who’s also a strong voice as a member of the community, says, “You’re very cool.” This is a sentiment that I agree with, “Do you think you are and why?”
Cool can be a subjective term. Cool as in trendy or on point or as in a cool person. They’re fun to hang out with. They have got interesting ideas. I’m more of that cool person. I’m not a trendy person. I am not one for getting dressed up or putting a face on or anything like that. I’m not that kind of cool, but I try to be a cool person to hang out with that you can talk to and have silly jokes with because I find it absurd, very entertaining, and will giggle over most things. I do think I’m cool in that respect.
I’m going to say that you are very cool. I can say this as a scientist. One of my friends and co-authors, Caleb Warren, has done research on coolness way back when did an episode and asked the question, “Are single people cool?” The conclusion that we came to is yes if they choose and own their singleness. Married people are not cool.
It’s very rare. At least being married is not cool because being married is conventional and traditional. Cool people are high-status by being rule breakers or benders. Caleb and his research use the term appropriate autonomy. One of the things that’s very clear about how you live your life and attitude, in particular, is that you are very comfortable being who you are and exerting your own autonomy, living life the way that you want to live it.
It’s very important to me.
It’s obvious. It stands out. Sylvie picks it up, and that’s why she thinks that you’re cool because she’s capturing that idea that you are, let’s be honest, not for everyone, but you’re also not feeling guilty. You’re not apologizing because you are for yourself first. That’s wonderful. We need more people like you, who not only are living their true, authentic selves, but they’re doing so without looking for permission from others. They’re not apologizing for it. They’re not feeling bad about it.
What we need is more than just words in books, which is what I have been working on. We need living, breathing examples of this to inspire other people to ask themselves, “What kind of life do I want? How can I do it and still be happy knowing that it’s going to invite criticism outright or this oblique, “You’re brave?”
I try to live my life as I wish to live it without doing harm to others and following a credo I have within myself. I have young nieces that I hope I’m a great example for, as an example of living a happy and solo alive with family, friends. and all of the things that I have around me. I’m very fortunate, blessed, and privileged in all of those ways. I’m happy with myself. If all of that falls away, I am still solid and happy within the core that is me. That’s what I try and stay true to.
It sounds like you have been like this for much of your life. Was there an influence, an ant, a book, or a moment in time when you felt like a switch hit?
Around fifteen, I knew for sure that I didn’t want to get married. I didn’t want to have children or be a primary carer of children. It was a solid thing inside of me that I knew. Everyone was telling me I’ll change my mind. I’m like, “I won’t. You keep telling me that. That’s your breath you are wasting.” My mom got it. She understood me. I’m lucky my parents weren’t pushing me to get married, have children, or anything. It’s when her friends started to be grandparents, “I guess I’m not having a grandchild from you.” “Not unless you want to take care of it.” She was like, “No.”
It was very clear that it wasn’t going to be me. I was very excited when my nieces came along. I’m happy to be an auntie. We have a great time on the weekends when I go to Sydney. I’m all in and then I come home. I thought in my early twenties that I’d be in a series of monogamous relationships. That didn’t happen because I was busy with work and study and doing other things. The boys were too much trouble. I didn’t know what to do with them, plus I was living with my grandmother, who had no concept of privacy. It’s easier to carry on and live my life, and I’ll deal with that when I need to.
I bought my own place and moved in. I had bandwidth and brain space to go, “Maybe I should follow the conventions and find myself a fellow.” I started the dating thing. The amount of time I was meet up for a coffee day and I’d be like, “I’m up to that chapter in that book. I want to finish that.” I wasn’t there. I couldn’t find a lot of interest even though you’re trying to find compatibility on the apps. It was a little bit before the apps and more of the websites. It was still hard. I went, “It’s not my thing.” I did meet a fellow with whom I had a 9-month relationship that was 6 months too long.
It was only because everyone was happy I had a fellow. I limped along in a half-assed way, then I went, “This is boring. You’re annoying me.” I’m not coming away going, “I can’t wait till I see him again.” I’ve had enough. I pulled the pin. I gave him a list of things that I would like him to do, and he said, “I’m not going to do it.” “See you,” and that was it. He walked away. It was pretty much it. I went, “That’s not what I’m meant to do. I’m not going to worry about it and move on.” It was a lot for people to be okay with it, “Don’t you need someone? Don’t you get lonely?” “No. I’ve got my animals and friends. I haven’t got enough time for myself, let alone to attend to everything else I want to do.”
When you were dating, which you’re not anymore, you had a Venn diagram on your site that got a lot of pushback.
I didn’t like that at all. It was my time, your time, and a little circle in the middle of our time. I was looking for someone to go out to dinner once a week, maybe go to the movies or the beach once, or maybe have a sleepover every often. I didn’t want a full-on. That’s why some of your discussions with people about relationship design, picking, and choosing. If I could be bothered, I’m probably more on the poly solo things that I’ll date you, but I can’t be bothered going through the process. Had I known this many years ago, I think I’d be a polyamory person.
You wouldn’t be pursuing monogamy in the official sense. It’s interesting you say this. Frequent readers know that I vacillate from being I’d say 20% of the time, “No way,” and 80% of the time, “New way.” Sometimes I do these mushroom trips, and I don’t know what’s going to happen. Often, in my mind, “It’s not it.” It’s my mind making a decision about what’s going to happen. I’ll land on a topic that will surprise me or come out of nowhere. It’s not necessarily a pain point.
I had this mushroom trip where I came to a realization about what I want my dating life to look like in the near future. I call it the Oasis Experience. I changed my profile on the dating app to reflect that I’m seeking an oasis experience, which is a limited amount of time. That number is 2 to 4 hours. I don’t put that the thing. I just flip over the sand timer.
I had a visualization of, “You’re running out of sand. Do you want to hurry up?”
What I want, though, is both for my partner and me to be an oasis, to be a highly enjoyable, sensual, hedonically pleasing experience. That might entail good food. I ask questions. One of them is like, “Would you like to dress up and be teased and pleased at a burlesque show?” It’s something like that. I’ll never go to a burlesque show alone. I don’t want to go to a burlesque show with a friend, but I love going to a burlesque show with a date, enjoying a nice drink, and having some laughs and intimacy. What I have found, which I think is fascinating, is that my matches have gone down, but the intensity of the matches that I have gone up.
You get quality over quantity.
What was very nice about that was giving it a label. The Oasis experience allows me to say, “This is not about sex. I’m not looking for casual sex, but it is also, let’s be honest, you’re not going to be my lady, but when we are together, I will be 100% present with you. I will hopefully provide an experience that stands out and that is worth coming back to see me again.”
Labeling that, being very clear and specific, is helpful. It’s very hard to get that sometimes.
From a relationship design standpoint, now what I am saying is, “These are the moments I’m looking to create. Is that something that you want in your life?” They get to say yes or no or, “Let’s try it and see how it feels.”
I’m a no way. Sometimes, the thought crosses my mind. I go, “Should I? Why? I’ve got a great life.” The only time it comes up is that relentless, “You’ll be alone.” I remind myself, “I’m perfectly okay with that. It doesn’t frighten me.” It’s this whole thing, “You’ll be alone with cats.” The old saying, “Don’t threaten me with a good time.” Who doesn’t want a couple of cats in the overhead?
Being a no way is much more common than people think. I continually repeat the data over and over again that up to 50% of singles in the United States are not interested in a dating relationship. For it to hit home, people need to hear folks like you say it unapologetically. I’m thankful for that.
I’m living my life. I am happy. I had a conversation with my dad a couple of years ago. He was coming from a place of love and trying to understand, “I worry about you.” I said, “What exactly are you concerned about?” He said, “You’ll be alone.” I said, “We’re all alone, essentially. Just because there’s another body around doesn’t make that any less being alone.” He goes, “Okay.” I said, “What do you see in my life that I’m missing?”
It was interesting for him to see that he couldn’t put it that I had anything that was missing. Life was good, then I had my 50th birthday. I threw myself a party. I had all these fantastic friends and family who gathered. I have got a great surrounding community and people who care and love me and will come to my aid. I’ve had a couple of health scares in the last few years and friends who are at the door ready to help out as I am for them. You build the life that you want by being the person that you are. Hopefully, that brings people to you. One of my very core tenets is that what you put out into the universe is a return to you threefold. If you put out good energy and actions, they are returned to you threefold.
One of the things that you do that puts a lot of good into the world is that you’re a librarian. I have great affection for librarians and for libraries.
We love knowing that.
To me, they are palaces. They’re incredibly important for communities and individuals. They’re especially important for children. Libraries were a big part of my childhood. My mom brought us to the library. She used it a little bit as a form of daycare or babysitting.
She’s not alone.
It always felt exciting to bring home a pile of books. Though you were fifteen and it was clear that you were not interested in children or marriage even, you ended up choosing a role as a caregiver of sorts, a caregiver of knowledge, young minds, and the community. There are people who are struggling and this is a public place for them to be able to come to use the bathroom even. What was that process like?
I fell into it entirely by accident, which is why I think there’s something out there in the universe that guides you or brings you to an opportunity. I left school with no real marketable skills. I didn’t have a driver’s license, so I couldn’t be a pizza deliverer or a thing like that. I spent the first year out of high school looking for work because, initially, you have to pick something that you’re going to be before you leave high school. I said I wanted to do nursing. I was a steady student but wasn’t a grade-A student. I could pass. I thought, “Nursing will do.”
While I was waiting for the nursing course to open up, I went, “I don’t want to do that. I’ll get a job while I think about it.” I spent the next twelve months looking for work. I couldn’t get it. I did a Secretarial Executive Assistant course to give me computer skills, typing, and all that thing. I did a general intake exam with the Bristol City Council, which is one of the largest councils in Australia. I finally got in. It was many years ago. They were like, “Where are we going to put you?”
They’re trying to do an interview to see where you are best situated. They asked me about my hobby. I was like, “I love reading.” “We’ll put libraries down.” Even though I’ve been a crazy mad reader since I could put 3 words together, cat sat on the mat, or 4 words, nothing registered with libraries. A couple of days later, I got an interview. They said, “Can you get to Banyo Library?” I had no idea where the library was at the time. I said, “I can.” I didn’t drive. I had to work out my way to get there. It all worked out. Here I am many years later. If I had known that the job involved so many people and not so many books, I have might not.
You might’ve become an editor or something,
I stay with the books. I have learned so much about people and myself dealing with people. I had some fantastic managers and colleagues who have guided and shaped me. You can’t help that when you are around people. You learn from them. Every time, I thought, “Is there something else I should be doing?” I was like, “I’ve got this job.” There would be some change and thing coming, “I want to be around for that.” Before I knew it, it was getting a certificate for 30 years. I’m very lucky to love the work that I do 92% of the time.
I like this term peopling. I’m going to steal that if you don’t mind. For someone who’s reading, who may struggle with peopling, is there something that you learned along the way that would help them?
I am constrained by my job to keep smiling and not say what I’d like to say sometimes. Otherwise, I’d have no job left. You’ve got to be prepared to deal with anything that comes your way in a professional environment, like a library, but in your everyday life, I try and deal with people as I would like to be dealt with courtesy, respect, and dignity and try not to make anyone stay harder. Not to say I won’t stand up for myself or call someone out, but I try not to attack the person. I’ll attack the situation.
I’ll go, “How did you do this? Why did you do that?” That kind of thing. Sometimes being around people all day, every day, is exhausting. If you are more of an introvert than an extrovert, you do need that downtime, and you need to make sure that you take it and guard yourself against that. Be mindful that people around you are filling your cup, not draining you.
It is so that you can show up the next day and be that person. As I get older and I’m getting more secure, I like the word magnanimous. It’s a great word. It’s something to strive for. The idea is that bullies are weak people. Strong people are kind people because they don’t need to show off their strength. They don’t need to use it. They have it, as you alluded to. They will defend themselves or the weak, but for the most part, they’re able to be pleasant, welcoming, and patient because they know in their back pocket, they have this sword if they need it.
The thing is knowing how to stand up for yourself without being a blustering fool. Sometimes you can be quiet and still and eyeball them. I had one man come up to the counter where I was at the branch, and he was full of himself and full of ego. He wanted my attention. I was winding up the thing I’d been doing. I slowly looked up at him. He took three steps back.
I didn’t say a word to him. I could see his energy come down, and he was a lot more pleasant. It was like, “Do not start.” It was all communicating through. You learn that. I can’t say how you do, but you learn to control yourself, use your eyes, and maintain that energy that, “I’m calm. I’m here to help you, but don’t give me crap because I’ll give it right back.”
It’s the F around and find out attitude. It’s interesting you say this because I am trying to cultivate this clear, confident, compassionate persona. When I’m at my best, I have it. One of the things about it is it allows me to enjoy people much more and to be kind and generous to people who are struggling. All of that rests on a foundation of knowing that I can handle the situation if it goes South.
It’s hard to be confident and compassionate when you are putting on an act and when you know that when push comes to shove, you don’t have what it takes to handle that situation. I don’t think there’s an easy way to develop this. The way you develop it is you become comfortable with who you are, become good at what you do, and actively look to practice it.
It’s being grounded within yourself and having that assuredness in your own self-worth and your own value as a human that you can stand on and go, “I am me. I’m ready for it.” I wish I could give it to people who struggle and feel that they don’t have that, “Here, have some of mine. You can borrow it for a while.”
You have a phrase that you use related to this idea of developing a skill called the plane of suckitude.
I hate that. It is a hard place to be when you’re in that plane of suckitude. It’s not something I came up with. It belongs to a marketing course that I attended as part of my work years ago. We were moving. We were going through a change management process, and everyone was feeling that plane of suckitude. Our manager at the time put it in there and said, “Soon, you’ll be heading for the elevator of enlightenment.” Learning a new skill, a new process, you want to get through it as fast as possible.
I introduced it to a colleague who’s started with the libraries. She’s having a day. She was like, “I’m making many silly mistakes.” I said, “You’ve just started. It’s a lot to learn. If you come from outside, libraries are a whole thing by themselves. It’s a big thing to learn. It’s okay. You are right in the middle of the plane of suckitide.”
She dissolved into a stare. She thought it was the funniest thing she’d ever heard. It made her day. The next few days, she said, “I’m still on the plane of suckitude, but I’m heading for that elevator of enlightenment.” Now she’s on it. She’s feeling much better. It gives a way of looking at when you’re in that experience. It’s not a permanent state of affairs. You’re going to get through it.
It signifies growth in the same way the sore muscles when you’re working out or embarrassment when you’re trying to do something in public that you’re not good at.
I don’t like the plane of suckitude so I want to power through and learn, and sometimes it puts me back and I stay on there much longer. I have learned that through going to the gym four days a week at the moment, and learning how to lift properly. I’m now up to 85 kilos deadlift. I never thought I’d be there again, but using the correct technique and having the guidance of my coach keep an eye on me, I’ve managed to go a couple of years now without any injury. I’m very proud of myself.
I’m obsessed with deadlifting. It was a heavy day for me.
What are you up to now?
I was doing sets of 275. I’m working on it. I’ve got long levers at my rate. I don’t want to belabor talking about deadlifting because I know it’s not for everyone. It’s a very high level of intense exercise. It’s very good for your bones and your muscles. It is very good for your backside if you care about what your backside looks like. It is one of the most mental exercises.
It’s incredibly simple. You’re picking a bar off the ground to about hip level, then placing it back down over again, anywhere between three and a dozen reps typically. When not done correctly, it can be dangerous. It’s easy to hurt yourself. What I find is that it is an exercise that demands 100% focus. You cannot be thinking about your boss and what you’re doing later that day. You’d have to be thinking about the bar, your feet, hips, back, shoulders, and being 100%. Thus, when you do it, you do it well.
It’s a very much in-the-moment task. You have to be in the moment because if your thoughts wander off, particularly if you’re up in the higher weights, you are going to do yourself some damage.
Even if I don’t have a good session, there’s always something satisfying about having tackled that challenging task.
I love doing it early in the morning. I come home and go, “I lifted 85 kilos for 7 reps 5 times.” My muscles are popping up and I’m like, “Look at that.” The other day, I was brushing my teeth and my gums and they all popped. I’m earning those. It feels good.
I’m proud that you are talking about this because it’s challenging. The weights that you’re moving are very heavy. It’s not trivial.
It makes me feel good and somewhat smug. I’m going home at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning. I’ve already done that. I’m ready for my day. It is a great endorphin lift.
I have a Solo Thoughts Episode about developing this mind of a matador and, “Where can you find bowls to dance with in your day?” I use deadlift as an example of having respect for the bar. You can’t fear, be reckless, and resent the bar. You have to be in this space where you respect this bar in order to be able to do this challenging thing.
That can translate into anything. If you’re working with large animals, horses, or big dogs, you need to be respectful of those animals and be in the moment because as soon as you’re not, they’ll tell you about it. The same with any other activity where there is potential for injury, and that’s good for us. We need to learn to be in the moment and focus on ourselves to do the thing that we’re doing very well.
I don’t think it has to be physical. It could be a work presentation, for example, and anywhere there’s a risk.
If I’d known my job meant that I was going to be reading stories to children and talking to people about things at libraries and various community groups, I would never do public speaking and then blow me down. Here I am in a job where I do it all day, every day, and talk about libraries to anybody for hours on end, whether they want to hear it or not. I also have another ethos where I try and say, “Yes.” I try and be available or open to trying new things. If someone invites me to go somewhere, I’ll give it a go.
Within reason, I’m not a big fan of some things. I go, “That’s not for me. I don’t want to spend the time or the money,” but for most things, I will give things a go. I know one of the community members, Steve Ainsley, asked me. One of the questions he wanted to know was how I pick the things that I want to do as a hobby. I learned modern jive dancing purely because I wanted to dance like they did in Dirty Dancing.
I did it for many years and I loved it. I made many friends from it that I still have. If more men knew what dancing does to women, partner dancing, I don’t think it would be a manosphere, honestly. A guy who knows how to lead and dance and move you around, whether you are experienced at dancing or not, it doesn’t matter what he looks like. If he’s got the moves, it’s phenomenal. There’s a tip for you. I did martial arts for quite some time. Before my black belt, I had a philosophical disagreement with my sensei and left. That was from Karate Kid, but I got so much more.
It’s ‘80s films on how you decide.
What could I say? I was doing my 15-year-old dream as a 30-year-old woman. Martial arts was funny enough and coincided when I started doing a lot of children’s activities and reading because I had a lot of fear around it. I didn’t feel confident. I’m hearing impaired so my speech sounds weird. It was a big thing for me to be able to read confidently and talk to people. Martial arts ethos taught me what I fear, how I face it, and how I move through it. That was all part of that, plus how to throw a punch properly without hurting yourself. It’s a very good skill. More women should know how to do that. You don’t punch with your hand. You punch with your whole body.
I have been monopolizing this conversation, learning about you. I recognize how precious time is on the show. I want to invite you if there’s something that you’re curious about or if you have an opinion.
So far, about SOLO?
Anything that here we are having a conversation, getting to know each other as new friends.
I’ve heard you speak that you’ve seen this as a ten-year project, and has it unfolded the way you thought it might, or has it gone completely off the rails in a totally different direction to where you come out?
I don’t know exactly where we’re at. It still feels very new. I have been surprised by how much of my life it takes. I am completely obsessed with this project. I do this thing called Dilemma Day. I haven’t done one in a long time. I do it as a dilemma dinner where I bring a small group of smart, creative people together to workshop their dilemmas to get feedback from them. It’s a winner. People love Dilemma Day. I host it. Sometimes I share dilemmas. Sometimes I don’t. My guests have told me that I should.
This is back when I was getting this stuff going. I had launched the show, but nothing else was happening with it. I hadn’t found my voice. I hadn’t yet found the comfort level that I have that you seem to have had your whole life. I didn’t quite have it. I had more bluster than anything else. I was going through what I had been doing and so on. I had been working on that ten-year humor project. They said, “This is going to be way bigger than the humor project. It’s going to be huge.” I was like, “Maybe. I don’t know.” I wasn’t that confident. I was worried I was too early. I no longer think that. I think that I happened into this at exactly the right moment.
You’ve hit the wave. You’ve nailed it.
It has brought out the best in me as a person. The most surprising thing is how much it has changed who I am.
How do you feel that it’s changed you in how you feel about things or your thoughts around being a single man, solo or bachelor?
It’s everything. I see the world differently. I’m a better person. I’m a much more generous and patient and less judgmental person. I am living a much more authentic, interesting, and exciting life that fits who I am much more. I feel grateful. I’m enjoying the creative work. It had this cascading effect on my relationships, my sense of self and identity, and the way I do my job. It’s such a wonderful gift that I’ve been given. I’m thankful for the encouragement that I got early on. I’m grateful for the people that I’ve gotten to meet as a result of this. I have new friends and perspectives. It’s wonderful. It’s not always easy. It’s been worth the time, effort, and challenges along the way.
The Slack community has been edifying, welcoming, curious, and learning different people. I never thought I’d be one of the guests on this show. It’s like, “Why me? I’ve got nothing.”
I have this vision that what we need to do is amplify the voices of regular people.
I’m about as regular as it gets.
I disagree. You look like a regular person, and you have a regular person job. You’re not Chelsea Handler or Tracee Ellis Ross, but most people are more like you than them. It’s helpful for them to know someone who is living a remarkable life in a way that is attainable.
It’s a remarkable life in an ordinary sense. I’m not doing anything. I’m not scaling mountains, deep sea diving, or anything crazy. I don’t go to glamorous parties or anything like that. I live a quiet librarian life, but it’s a very satisfying, rich internal life that I have. I’m happy to share that you can have a great life as a solo single person because it can be as deeply enriching as anything being in a partnership might bring. The more I see a partnership, I don’t think it’s anywhere near what it’s cracked up to be. A lot of people are being sold an outright con job.
It agrees with fewer people than the number who do it. I need to do the research and figure this out. I alluded to it in the book, and on the show. Single people make the world a better place. They have time and energy to devote to the arts, community, their family, friends, and sciences. To me, it’s a mathematical argument that when you live in a world where your partner needs to be everything, you have to give everything to your partner.
That doesn’t leave much left over for the rest of the world. One of the things that I encourage people to do is to be a powerful force in the world. That could be small or large. That could be volunteering or making art. That is a place where what would’ve been given to that one person, you get to give to many.
You share it outward. It can be that one person’s giving far more than they’re getting from that other person. It could be very unbalanced in that way.
Is there something that you want to end on?
Keep doing what you’re doing, Peter. It’s fantastic. The amount of times when I’m reading, I’m cheering or going, “I totally agree with that.” I have a conversation with you in my car or wherever. Food for thought in every single episode. Thank you for inviting me. I have felt privileged and honored to be asked to be a guest. I hope I’ve answered the questions that people have had.
What I wanted people to get from you is your energy. You have such wonderful energy.
It’s this positive energy. You’re a powerful voice. I see it in your words. I knew that I would hear it in your words here. If I had a wishlist, I would want people to walk away from this episode, is with a feeling of what can be accomplished when you become comfortable with who you are and you can be unapologetic about it because you live and breathe that phrase, unapologetically unattached. It’s a misnomer of sorts because you are hardly unattached. You’re not attached to that one fellow. The world is better off because you’re not. Thank you for that.
Thank you very much.
- Amazon –Solo: Breaking The Rules In A World Built For Two
- Kerri Baillie – LinkedIn
- Iris Schneider – Past Episode
- Caleb Warren – Past Episode
- Solo Thoughts Episode – Past Episode
About Kerri Baillie
Kerri Baillie is a lifelong 51 year old single woman who proudly identifies with the SOLO ethos. She is a practical and forthright woman who believes in tolerance, kindness and common sense and that whatever energy you put out into the world is returned to you threefold so make it count.