Humans are social creatures; we crave the comfort of other warm-blooded beings in close proximity. At work we’re lauded for our teamwork skills and at leisure we’re obsessed with being connected (virtually or otherwise). And yet, despite our natural desire to seek out togetherness, there is something to be said for being alone.
No, not the sad, weepy, nobody-loves-me kind of loneliness you experience on the first night after a breakup. And not the alone time that you spend tweeting or curating your Facebook profile. I’m talking about legit solitude.
The thought of isolation makes some people very nervous. After five minutes of seclusion we feel panicky, compelled to reach for our phones and connect to the rest of the world. But when we are constantly looking to others to validate our existence, learning how to be alone is more important than ever.
I often find myself feeling desperate to disconnect and enjoy some solid me time. Not because I’m antisocial and wallowing in self pity (I’m looking at you, Bridget Jones, singing All By Myself into a tub of ice cream) but because in everyday life there is a constant pressure to be on. Sometimes I just need to switch off.
It’s so important to take time off from the daily performance of being a best friend, a lover, a co-worker, and to allow ourselves to just be. Whenever I’m by myself, I find time to do all those things I’ve been meaning to do, or I find time to do nothing at all.
Whether I’m more relaxed or more productive, I’m ultimately more myself when I’m alone than at any other time.
Single living, if your budget allows, is a marvelous luxury. You have total freedom to live by your own rules: make a mess, go out all night, sleep all day (diagonally if you’re so inclined), have cereal for dinner, listen to awful music and decorate however you please.
And if you become unsatisfied with your solo time indoors, the city can be a wonderful place for loners. You can wander unnoticed in the crowded streets, disappear in darkened movie theatres, slip into near-silent art galleries and forget the rest of the world.
Solitude in large doses may not be for everyone, but to be alone by choice — in a content and meaningful way — is an essential part of the human experience.