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“I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Being alone is appealing to me. I have always been a loner.
Not a loser or an antisocial human, and most definitely not lonely. But a loner; a lone wolf if you will.
And while many of my attributes come from being an introvert, at the burning heart of my core, I just find comfort and solace in being alone. And you know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a person who tends to favor alone time over spending time in crowds of people, however big or small.
There are many things that a person can learn when they choose being alone over being with someone, anyone.
In fact, many of my defining moments have come from spending time by myself; it allows my mind to settle. It allows me to make sense of my thoughts that at times feel jumbled and hectic. And it really allows me to take a moment to remember who I am. It’s easy to lose yourself in the society that places upon us pressures and expectations we don’t ask for.
By taking off by yourself, you learn who you are without those interruptions. And more than anything, when I’m alone, I feel free.
1. Being alone doesn’t equal lonely.
It’s a common misconception that people who enjoy being alone are lonely. This is generally untrue, yet it’s why many feel judged when they admit they want to spend time alone. Extroverts often can’t fathom why someone would choose to spend time by themselves when they could be with people instead. And I understand why people make this connection; when we see someone dining alone in a restaurant, or going to the movies by themselves, we’re all guilty of wondering why they’re alone. We instinctively assume that they must be lonely. But what if they’re not? What if they just enjoy their own company?
When you love being alone and grow comfortable admitting that you like to spend time in your own company, you will realize that this observation is far from true. A person who is by themselves is no more alone than a person can be when surrounded by people. You can be perfectly content without the company of others.
2. You’ll feel complete.
Many feel that they need the companionship of another to feel truly complete, but when you spend time alone you realize that, even when you’re single, you continue to exist. You continue to breathe, your mind continues to work, you continue to live. The more you continue to focus on this, you start to realize how complete you are as a person, on your own. If you weren’t, how would you be able to continue functioning? There is nothing that someone else can give to you that you do not already have.
3. You’ll find inner happiness.
Once you’ve understood that you are complete as a person, the next lesson that spending time alone can teach you is happiness, and how happiness is only something that can grow from inside of you. Happiness is not something that can be gifted to you by another person.
Feeling happiness and being happy are different things. You can feel happiness while in the company of another, yet it can also be fleeting. Being happy is something that comes from within, something that, when you realize that you have the power you make yourself happy, will start to become a reality.
4. You won’t need the validation of others.
Many of us feel accomplished once we have the validation of another person, whether it’s family, friends, colleagues, or teachers. It can be the reason why we stay in relationships that make us unhappy, in jobs that we despise, or spend time with people who are toxic. When you spend your time, effort, and energy being what you think others expect you to be, you will never live an authentic life. You may start to live purely to please others. But when you spend time alone, when no one else is around but you, you will begin to realize that the only person you really need to impress is yourself. Your own approval is all that matters. You will no longer feel the need to please others and gain their praise; how you feel about yourself is enough.
5. You discover the value and power of silence.
The world we live in is naturally fast-paced, and it can mean that we never really have a moment of peace. When you spend time alone, you allow your mind to be quiet, and with a quiet mind, you can hear your own soul speaking to you. You can decipher your thoughts that can otherwise become jumbled in busy environments. You will connect with your own intuition, and be better able to make sense of situations that had perhaps felt hopeless beforehand.
6. You learn to feel and heal.
When I was younger, I avoided my emotions. But avoiding my emotions didn’t make me happier. In fact, it sabotaged relationships and left me depressed. The problem with having avoided my emotions for so long was that I also avoided healing. When I realized and accepted my depression, I chose to spend a lot of time alone, which led me to confront those issues and self-reflect a great deal. I dealt with my demons, and I relinquished the anger. Now, I use alone time as a way to identify how I’m feeling about certain situations, and the time allows me to mentally resolve them, finding healing.
“My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.” ~ Warsan Shire
7. You won’t focus on people pleasing.
As fun as spending time in the company of others can be, it naturally leads to compromise. Whether it’s the food you choose to eat or the film you decide to watch, we sometimes modify our ideas to accommodate the desires and opinions of those we spend time with. We tend to maintain our relationships by keeping other people happy or at least reach some kind of compromise. Over time, this can be draining.
Once we spend time alone, the only happiness we have to worry about (in that moment) is our own. You can spend quality time treating yourself to those things that really make you happy, whether it’s what you choose to eat, or how you choose to spend your spare time.
8. You’ll be less apologetic.
It can be easy to grow too apologetic. Growing up, I always felt the need to apologize to those around me for not wanting to make plans. Friends would ask me to do something, and I always felt that I was letting them down by saying no if I wanted to instead spend time alone. This led to an unhealthy habit of feeling that I had to apologize and justify myself to please others.
When you spend time alone, you quickly begin to understand that solitude means you don’t have to keep apologizing for wanting to do so. Focusing on yourself should be a priority; you should never feel that you’re letting someone down by choosing yourself.
9. You’ll stop comparing yourself to others.
We live in an era where social media dictates a large portion of our lives. The media is powerful, and the images portrayed can have a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves. This can cause an unhealthy cycle to develop where we compare our life to the images around us. When we see “prettier” lives, as depicted on platforms such as Instagram, we can end up feeling overwhelmed by our own. It can be easy to idolize the life you’re viewing on a screen and believe that you’re living a life of a lesser value than someone else.
When you peel yourself away from social media and spend time by yourself, you will soon begin to realize that making these comparisons is pointless. When you spend time alone you will learn to focus more on what is important in your own life. You will also learn to be less judgmental of yourself and others.
10. You’ll learn that it’s okay to be selfish.
We’re led to believe that selfishness is an ugly trait, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s entirely necessary to be selfish and put yourself first. You deserve to be put first. We all have responsibilities to others, but it’s vital that we also take care of ourselves so that we don’t become neglected. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when we’re solely focused on taking care of those around us.
Whether it’s switching your phone off for an afternoon or taking the time to read a book, you deserve to focus on yourself and enjoy the selfish time.
11. You’ll value the need to recuperate and recharge.
We all need to take the time to recuperate and recharge, whether we’re an introvert or an extrovert. Often, we’re surrounded by other people on a daily basis and this can take a lot of energy from us. We tend to try and keep others happy, whether we’re trying to make them laugh or trying to find a solution to a problem they’re having, and this can be mentally draining. Taking a little alone time allows you to recharge and take a break from the constant interaction that can become both emotionally and mentally taxing.
12. You will realize you are bigger than any problem.
We’ve all been overwhelmed by a problem at some stage in our lives that seemed so huge that it loomed over our world like a pending hurricane.
Spending time alone can help you feel less overwhelmed. There is a solution to every problem, even when it doesn’t feel like it. You are bigger than any problem you face, and by spending time alone, you will strengthen your courage and be able to hear your own inner wisdom. You will have the tools to deal with whatever challenge you face.
13. You’ll feel more independent.
Growing up, I was not independent. In fact, I was the polar opposite. I hated getting on a bus and requesting my fare. I never ventured far by myself. I relied on others around me heavily, so much so that I felt restricted and would grow anxious if I had to do something on my own. When I entered the working world this got better, but it was spending time alone that really allowed me to gain my confidence.
Once I started spending time alone, I naturally become more independent. I no longer felt that I needed others to guide me in life. I started to travel by myself and no longer felt trepidation about it. Independence opens doors.
14. You will get to know yourself.
Growing up, I was insecure. I didn’t like my dimples, my teeth weren’t perfect, and when I grew boobs I instinctively wanted to hide them. I didn’t really know who I was as a person and I spent a chunk of my life feeling somewhat lost. When I learned to be alone and relish it, I grew with confidence. I grew comfortable with the person I was; I stopped listening to music because it was popular—I discovered music I really loved and didn’t care whether it was cool or not. I dressed in clothes I liked, not caring whether they were fashionable or not. I didn’t care about blending in; I wanted to stand out and be my own person. And my confidence in who I was as a person rocketed. When you step outside of your comfort zone, you force yourself to really stare at your insecurities and work on them. Time alone can be empowering.
15. You’ll learn to be who you are—not who people think you should be.
From the second we’re born, we’re conforming to the expectations of those around us. We’re raised by our parents; we go to school and are taught how to behave, how to learn. We trade school for a work environment, where we’re further taught how to do our job. We’re held to an expectation, and we’re often not permitted the freedom to be ourselves.
When you spend time alone, you will discover you’re free from these limitations. Deep within you, you will find both the strength and the courage to embrace who you are. The expectations of others will begin to hold little meaning in the way you live your life, and you will no longer hide from yourself.
16. You will understand quality over quantity.
I don’t have a large circle of friends. In fact, my circle is select and few. I realized growing up that many friendships would have an expiration date, and the idea of having vast amounts of superficial friendships never appealed to me.
Being alone helps you gain a better understanding of who you are, and what you want from life, and you’re more likely to make better choices about the people you choose to spend time around. You’ll invest time and effort into friendships that don’t drain you. You may also find that when you spend time alone, you come to appreciate the relationships that you have built.
17. Your creativity will thrive.
When you’re surrounded by other people, it can be hard for your mind to perform at its best. It’s easy to become distracted by others, not to mention you may feel disinterested in tasks when you’re unable to put all of your potential into them. Other times, projects are put off until a time when you’re alone, and they soon become discarded or forgotten.
When you enjoy being alone, you distance yourself from distractions and allow yourself a refuge where your mind is free to get creative. Your creative capabilities will flow more freely, and you’ll find that you’re a lot more productive.