Alone time is so precious to me. It’s an essential part of my being and how I recover from the stress of daily life. I have always enjoyed my solitude and preferred quiet alone time to engaging with others in conversation or play. Alone time reenergizes and recharges the introvert, and it provides everyone the ability to get to know ourselves better and truly develop a relationship with ourselves.
On the topic of alone time, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“Alone time is absolutely essential to the human organism. Many of us have been afraid to be alone. We are afraid that if someone else is not around, no one will be present. When we have lost the awareness of ourselves, we try to fill up our time with work, busyness, food, and other people. We have been afraid to sound our own depths. We have been afraid that we would look inside and find no one there.
Yet, when we have that first awareness of ‘rediscovering our spirit,’ we know that there is someone there, inside of us, who is well worth knowing.
There is no way to know ourselves unless we have time alone to explore. We need to nurture and protect our alone time even when it seems difficult.”
I remember during high school I became quite codependent on my friends. Once they left for college, I was scared to be alone. I realized one can never avoid being alone all the time, and to do so would be unhealthy anyway. At the end of the day, you can really only count on yourself. You have to be comfortable with yourself and being alone to face who you are. I recognized this fear of being alone in others around me and decided once and for all to overcome it. This is when I started to take myself out on dates. I would go to movies or to dinner alone. I felt extremely self-conscious at first and thought everyone must be thinking that something was wrong with me or how weird I was for going out by myself. Later I realized that no one gives much thought to anyone beyond themselves. No one gave me strange looks or made comments about the fact that I was alone. No one seemed to react at all. The movies were easier to attend, because you are in the dark and no one can really observe you. I found that seeing a movie alone was more enjoyable, because there was no one to interrupt or talk during the viewing. Going out to dinner alone proved to be much more challenging for me mentally. I felt very obvious and on display in the bright lights of the Original Pancake House I visited for that first meal. I used my time to observe the people around me.
During this time, I also took it upon myself to travel to another country by myself knowing absolutely no one there. What a learning experience that was! I had to become quite comfortable navigating the world by myself and being alone for not only meals, but at all times of the day. I’m so glad I made these strides in independence when I was young though, because later, when I had to travel alone for work or eat dinners alone during business trips, I was comfortable doing so.
The more mundane time we spend alone at home gives us a chance to become close with ourselves and to really know ourselves. We become closer to ourselves by exploring our hobbies, learning our own likes and dislikes, discovering what we really think about the world through the pursuit of knowledge and experiences. We are each amazing and unique people. We should feel so lucky to get to know ourselves intimately, better than anyone else, in fact. We have ourselves for company no matter where we are or what we’re doing. That is a beautiful gift.