Alone and loving it!
I love this post on solitude. As an only child I’ve always found it easy to spend time by myself and as an adult I sometimes have to remind myself to maintain balance and also spend time with friends, interacting and enjoying the exchange of thoughts, stories and ideas instead of quietly thinking by myself.
I realised in my early twenties how much I enjoyed having time to lie in bed and stare at the ceiling or gazing through the window, thinking about nothing in particular but enjoying the thoughts that popped up. I’d follow them to see where they led, let them go and see what came up next. I could spend a long time doing this and usually felt more able to cope with the stresses of uni life (and the abject poverty that came with it!) after some “alone time”.*
I gradually became aware, though, that this was not a pasttime that many of my friends indulged in and I began to feel a little odd, to say the least. I briefly considered forcing myself to become more social, to always be around friends or speaking with friends on the phone, but I knew it wouldn’t stick. I generally tend to feel mentally exhausted after spending long periods of time being stimulated by too many conversations, too much noise or too much activity (give me a quiet, intimate dinner party over a loud house party any day!). So I decided to just embrace my love of alone time and accept that it’s part of what makes me, me. No need to apologise or explain, it’s just what I do.
I can understand why solitude may not be considered a desirable state of being – certainly, carving out alone time may be the toughest part – but I can’t encourage people enough to seek it out and enjoy it. In his post (linked above), Leo Babauta writes:
Just a few of the benefits I’ve found from solitude:
- time for thought
- in being alone, we get to know ourselves
- we face our demons, and deal with them
- space to create
- space to unwind, and find peace
- time to reflect on what we’ve done, and learn from it
- isolation from the influences of other helps us to find our own voice
- quiet helps us to appreciate the smaller things that get lost in the roar
I absolutely agree with his assessment. For me, the greatest benefit was getting to know myself during the wierdness that was my early-20s (I’m not the only one who had a hard time of it, right?). My alone time gave me grounding and allowed me to figure out why I did or didn’t do things, assess if that was OK or needed to be changed and, most importantly, to dream big dreams. Huge dreams. Some of which I’ve completely forgotten about, some of which have come to pass and some that need to be reassessed.
Your alone time will give you something completely different, something you absolutely need, so try to make time to spend time alone. Leo also has tips on how to find solitude in an extremely busy life, so head on over and read what he has to say. You’ll benefit from it!
*As I type this I’m beginning to wonder if staring at the wall or ceiling may be my form of meditation. It’s possible, right?