Solitude feeds the soul. It’s when we are alone by ourselves that we can hear what we think; interpret what we heard.
Sometimes, it feels as though the world has never understand the need of some of its members to be alone.
Yet counter-intuitively, it’s this time spent alone that makes us a better friend to others.
Being alone doesn’t mean we’re lonely, a fact that only introverts can truly understand. In fact, these 7 reasons explain why our choice to be alone is often a direct result of our desire to be socially engaged.
1. “Five minutes of social life takes up an hour of analysis”
The need to be alone often comes from a desire to properly analyze the details of what happens at social gatherings.
As it was beautifully put by The Book of Life: “We need to be alone because life among other people unfolds too quickly. The pace is relentless: the jokes, the insights, the excitements. There can sometimes be enough in five minutes of social life to take up an hour of analysis.”
2. We need time with our own thoughts
At a certain point of social interactions, we need to withdraw and be with our own thoughts. This doesn’t mean we don’t value our friendships; rather, time spent alone helps us better understand ourselves:
“At a certain point, we have had enough of conversations that take us away from our own thought processes, enough of external demands that stop us heeding our inner tremors, enough of the pressure for superficial cheerfulness that denies the legitimacy of our latent inner melancholy – and enough of robust common-sense that flattens our peculiarities and less well-charted appetites.”
3. We take people seriously
Again, our eloquent writer: “We, the ones who are asphyxiated without periods by ourselves, take other people very seriously – perhaps more seriously than those in the uncomplicated ranks of the endlessly gregarious. We listen closely to stories, we give ourselves to others, we respond with emotion and empathy.”
Here’s the key point:
It’s simply impossible to digest everything that’s been said, and we really want to do this. We want to process everything that’s happened.
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We take people seriously, along with every interaction at our social gatherings.
4. Being on our own enhances our appreciation of others
By retreating into ourselves, we give the impression that we reject others and their company, but just the opposite is true: in withdrawing to digest, we show our deep appreciation for social connection with others.
5. Alone time is when you’re most creative
It is by withdrawing into ourselves that we become more of ourselves. This is the place where original thoughts are spawned, where we discover our own perspective on things.
It’s the birthplace of creativity.
This makes us a more unique human being, and results in us having more to offer our friendship.
6. You become better friends by spending time alone
“We’re drawn to solitude not because we despise humanity but because we are properly responsive to what the company of others entails. Extensive stretches of being alone may in reality be a precondition for knowing how to be a better friend and a properly attentive companion.”
The novelist, poet, and environmental activist Wendell Berry beautifully explains the benefits of being alone:
“We enter solitude, in which also we lose loneliness… True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible. One feels the attraction of one’s most intimate sources. In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives. The more coherent one becomes within oneself as a creature, the more fully one enters into the communion of all creatures.”
7. We understand the power of human connection from being alone
In these words by the poet, novelist, essayist, and diarist May Sarton in her Journal of a Solitude we understand the need for connection through spending time in solitude:
“I am here alone for the first time in weeks, to take up my ‘real’ life again at last. That is what is strange—that friends, even passionate love, are not my real life unless there is time alone in which to explore and to discover what is happening or has happened.
“Without the interruptions, nourishing and maddening, this life would become arid. Yet I taste it fully only when I am alone…”
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