Since you clicked on this article, I’d like to believe that you are also one of those people who can attain utmost serenity simply by being with yourself, or are someone who wants to learn how to be at peace with yourself. Let me assure you, you are not the only one who feels that way. Have you ever felt that you learn something better in the absence of people, be it a lesson at school or a new skill?
Intentional solitude is an idea of deliberately spending time alone to gain clear perspectives, insights, and ideas that lead one to a better state of mind. Contrary to popular belief that only introverts enjoy some quiet time alone, this particular idea can be found to be enjoyed by both extroverts and introverts alike.
To quote the Nobel prize-winning French author Andre Gide, “The fear of finding themselves alone, that is what they suffer from, and so they don’t find themselves at all.”
Personally, enjoying solitude has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I never really acknowledged it’s value early in my life though, until recently when I had to move to a different town for further studies, it hit me in form of a big realisation. The swarm of new social interactions accompanied by sudden absence of this “me-time” I naturally and constantly longed for made me impatient and confused at times. My attention span at school took a pitfall and I constantly found myself impatiently waiting for weekends when I could finally rest pieces of my soul in my lovely couch. Some would call it being homesick, but all I wanted was some time with myself so that I could process everything that was going inside me and analyse how things that were going around me influenced that process.
On account of these incidents that happened recently in my life, I realized that solitude plays a vital role in knowing yourself better and loving yourself even more as you no longer have to depend upon people solely to bring you contentment. And I was amused how it had always came to me naturally since I was a kid, that I did not even notice I was doing some things different than some people.
Since childhood, our society tries to condition us to believe that solitude is something that could make us anti-social or laid back. I am pretty sure we all know at least one parent who gets worried that their children’s constant longing for solitude means they will have no ability to blend in social interactions and make friends? Generally, people tend to fear solitude because we see and learn that being alone is usually associated with loneliness, some kind of mental health issue or maybe some sort of toxic anti-social behavior as portrayed in the mainstream media and the society.
When solitude is a choice, it doesn’t necessarily mean that being alone makes you feel lonely, it makes so many people feel light and free from the performance pressures of the world. “Solitude vivifies, loneliness kills”, this quote alone can sum up the difference between solitude, which is more of a choice and loneliness, which is a state when you actually do not want to be alone but you end up so. Finding solace in solitude when you choose it for yourself is like finding a friend within yourself and enjoying your own company; and before you know, you’ll start being more gratified of your own presence.
Great scientists and artists are usually known for being loners. Given that, the three C’s perfectly sum up the benefits of practicing intentional solitude— Clarity, Consciousness, and Creativity. When you’re with a group of people, your mind is divided to think of multiple things at a time as you are presented with a lot of information and a lot of second person perspectives to understand. It might be interesting initially but gets tiring after a while.
You might wander around and make small talk at first and then your analysing brain kicks in and you start to ponder over what you just said to that person, were they pleased or pissed? Was sharing your opinion worth it? On your own, however, you are driven to think about the issue that has been bothering you the most. It provides clarity to obscurity and consciousness that drives you to take a certain action or feel a certain way. You learn to look within yourself, make way to the root of anything that is bothering you in any way and solve it on your own. You become upfront with your thoughts and there being nobody to question them, you make something priceless out of them.
Nikola Tesla, “Be alone, that is the secret of invention. Be alone, that is when ideas areborn.”
So here’s me, an occasional loner, sipping coffee on my couch and writing things I could’ve never written in a classroom or a park because I’d be too busy learning about the outside world that for some moments, I’d forget that I have so much to learn about myself. When you aree comfortable and at peace with yourself, magic happens. It just feels right because you are your best friend indeed. To me, this is just another expression of self-love, a key to live a fulfilling life.