Do you spend a lot of time on your own? Do you crave that isolated time which is yours and yours only, or do you dread it instead?
It seems that when speaking about spending time alone, the primary inclination leads to the two different social personality types: introverts and extroverts.
By definition, introverts are drawn inside, shy in company; whereas extroverts are extremely sociable in nature.
Nowadays, it’s getting increasingly popular to defend introverts, as if they were always drawing the short straw. The not-so-latest findings have started to define a third group as well: the ambiverts.
Are matters that simple though? This division doesn’t cut through the whole complexity for me. “If you like being around people you’re an extrovert, and if you like being alone you’re an introvert” – shouldn’t be taken as gospel.
The world isn’t black and white – there all those colours in between, around, inside, and outside. Surely our persuasions toward solitude are a spectrum?
In my opinion, there’s an introvert and extrovert in all of us. One prevails over the other at one point or another. It’s a battle, not a straightforward separation.
I know shy people who are great public speakers (managing to hide their angst), and utterly extrovert people who suddenly disappear for months at a time, spending time on their own, working private matters out.
The Benefits of Being Alone
‘The aim of solitude is to live more at leisure and at one’s ease’.
My college roommate didn’t like being alone for even a negligible period of half an hour or an hour. She was saying that she’s bored being alone and doesn’t know what to do, that it makes her feel confused and anxious.
Therefore, she used to plan her time carefully, so she wouldn’t ever be left alone. And we’re talking about a person with self-confidence and positive attitude, highly sociable and assured personality.
On the other hand, I used to dream about an hour of being alone, a time to clear out my brain, especially because it was a very rare occasion in the midst of all my busyness at the time.
One of my favourite techniques of letting go, whenever I was alone and ever since I was a child, was switching off the lights and listening to music in a dark room for hours.
This complete surrender to the sounds of music – to the hearing sense only – used to work wonders; recharge my body and soul; give me pain and then immediately heal it; whisper thoughts to my ears; bring new ideas; and sometimes even unveil hidden problems.
Through this, I discovered what it means to be alone – spend quality time with oneself – and yet not be lonely. You don’t necessarily need to go out in the world to find out and learn things.
By introspection, re-examining, diving into the realm of oneself and all the faces and masks one represents at one time or another, you can reveal the extraordinary – different aspects about yourself – and how this reflects on the world. It’s a valuable time: time never wasted.
To learn how to live, you must first learn how to live with yourself. And ‘yourself’ is complex; the more you investigate the more you find. Failing to understand the ‘self’, you’ll never be fully able to understand the ‘other’.
Once you feel at ease with being alone – in the sense discussed above – you have the potential for the real ‘you’ feeling at ease with someone else.
It’s being said that a couple is most intimate when they’re free to spend time together in silence. A wordless union, without the anxiety of what to say. Each to his own, and yet together. Solitude teaches, but only if you’re willing to listen.
Have you succumbed to the art of solitude at some point? What is your experience?