There are days when I simply want to enjoy my own company. I’m happily married (most of the time) and have been for 50 plus good years. I have a network of friends and acquaintances with whom I enjoy many social activities. I love socializing, being around people, and doing things with others. Sometimes, however, I need time alone to re-group and focus on my thoughts, reactions, and feelings. Too much socializing creates a level of exhaustion and leaves me feeling dissatisfied.
During my career, I learned to travel alone, eat in restaurants alone, and attend various events alone. I learned not to feel self-conscious when alone in public spaces. I won’t speak for my husband but I know that he often enjoyed taking vacations without me when I was still busy with my career and he had limited his work schedule to two or three days per week of consulting. I’ve also enjoyed vacations without my husband.
Our relationship feels fresh and less stressful when we’ve spent time pursuing activities apart. There are new things to discuss. Perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder. Fostering individual relationships and enjoying new experiences strengthens a partnership and brings balance.
I love to go walking alone; it’s an activity that I have learned to enjoy on my own as much as with my walking group. Walking alone is meditative; it’s a time to observe nature; it’s a time to think. On the walking trails, I observe others who share their ‘alone’ time with pets or headphones. I prefer no interference as this is my time to recuperate, centre my thoughts, and rest my brain.
Time alone and Loneliness
Time alone differs from loneliness. Many people judge that there’s something wrong with being alone. In our society, it’s common to believe that a person sitting alone or living alone experiences loneliness.
Choosing to spend time alone is different from loneliness. Loneliness is defined as a state of mind that causes one to feel of empty and unwanted — a type of involuntary solitude. A good description of loneliness and its negative effects is found at https://www.verywellmind.com/loneliness-causes-effects-and-treatments-2795749
Benefits of Time Alone
‘Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.’
This quotation, attributed to the German philosopher, Paul Tillich expresses the joy experienced from time alone. Those readers, who, like me, have always been a bit introverted will readily agree with Tillich. Time alone provides time to think clearly about life and decide how to make life meaningful. When the external chatter falls away, the still small voice inside gives focus on the direction of my life, the choices I’m making, and aspirations for the future. My mind wanders to interesting spaces; I never know where thoughts will lead.
Solitude gives the brain a rest. No performance is needed. No external communication is expected. There’s no need to focus attention. The mind wanders, giving the brain time for renewal. As a result, we feel energized and rested.
Taking time for oneself also allows day-dreaming. There’s time explore new ideas. Sometimes getting lost in one’s thoughts improves attention span, memory, and ability to concentrate. Daydreaming is a method of connecting with the unconscious; sometimes inspiration strikes when the brain connects disparate thoughts and events. Sometimes daydreaming contributes to solving a nagging problem.
Time alone enhances creativity for hobbies such as writing. As a blogger, I spend many hours in front of a screen describing thoughts about happiness in retirement. I also spend time reading, thinking, and researching blog topics. Solitude allows complex ideas to form without interruption.
Undisturbed reflection while alone is a form of self-care that builds self-confidence. There is time to make friends with yourself by sorting through emotions, feelings, short-comings, and memories. Solitude helps me consider the hopes and possibilities of my life and to make sense of who I am and where I fit into the world.
By taking time to enjoy my own company I’ve learned to value solitude. My imagination flourishes. Quiet time energizes me. When I nurture the relationship I have with myself, I give myself the capacity to nurture and love others.
Thanks for reading this post. I’m interested in your thoughts and ideas about spending time alone. Do you enjoy your own company or would you rather spend time socializing with others?