How Much Do You Value Your Alone Time?
Are you a people person? I am.
When I was a teenager, I was constantly in pursuit of companionship, unlike my introverted daughter who loves her alone time. Boy, did that apple ever fall far from this tree!
My need to be with others during my teenage years worried my mom a little. I remember her encouraging me, ever so gently, to find pleasure in the company of a good book instead of always seeking out others for entertainment.
The thought of spending time by myself and actually enjoying it was foreign to me back then. Why would I choose to be with myself when I could be with others?
I didn’t just want to be with others, I needed to. Every spare minute. Maybe it was due to teenage boredom. Maybe it was because of the fairly strong dislike I had for myself back then. Most likely it was a combination of the two.
My neediness continued well into my twenties and early thirties. If I wasn’t out with friends, I was desperately trying to reach them so that we could make plans to catch some live music, see a movie, grab a drink, go for coffee, anything, anywhere, I wasn’t fussed, as long as I wasn’t home alone.
Relationships certainly helped to satisfy my need for company. And I had many. One long-term relationship after another after another. I loved them all, but not really. Some, yes, but more often I just told myself I did to justify the attachment.
In between relationships, I had plenty of alone time.
I wouldn’t call it healthy though. Most of the time I spent alone was painful and wrought with longing for the next distraction to come into my life and save me from myself.
And that’s why I am sitting here right now, solitary (except for the dog), contemplating the great sense of peace I am feeling in this moment that I am sharing with nobody. It is lovely.
I don’t know exactly when I began to reap happiness from my own company, although I suspect the journey began when I started taking anti-depressants about a decade ago. Within a couple of hours of taking my first 10 mg pill, the incessant chatter in my head stopped. Talk about relief.
Thinking about it now, I wonder if I desperately sought out others so that their voices could suppress the less attractive voices in my own head, but I’m just guessing. All I know is this: the incessant chatter in my head was instantly replaced with space. The noise stopped as abruptly as a hamster wheel stops when it encounters a human intervention.
I never used to be comfortable with silence. Now, I crave it.
When I was young, if a room was silent, you could count on me to break that silence. And if people were talking, you could count on me to interject utter nonsense into the lulls that occurred while they paused to breathe. Not anymore though. Now, I’ll go out of my way to find silence.
The other day, I unrolled my yoga mat, opened my laptop, and pressed play on a 45-minute audio class. The practice was sweet. I surrendered to my instructor’s direction and moved with ease. Before I knew it, it was time for Shavasana.
“Find deep rest and relaxation,” she said.
Resting in Shavasana has never been a challenge for me. Staying awake while resting in Shavasana has been. On this day, it wasn’t.
As I lay there quietly, I was aware of my stillness but mostly I was aware of hers. I listened actively to a good five minutes of silence, marveling at my instructor’s confidence. How much easier it would have been for her to fill or, at the very least, pepper the silence with words of reassurance — redundant words like “just keep breathing.” As if we’d actually stop.
But she didn’t. She remained silent, trusting that we’d still be there when she eventually resurfaced.
And then I took a moment to appreciate how the silence I once so adamantly avoided was adding to the quality of my alone time.
Alone time allows us to quiet our thoughts, settle our nerves, and listen to our hearts. It helps us uncover what’s missing from our lives, and equally valuable, what we actually have. It encourages us to be still and present and authentic. No performance required.
Not only is it a gift we should have the grace to give others, it is a gift we should all learn to give ourselves. If you haven’t mastered the art, you may wish to begin your practice now.
Viv Singer is a life coach, blogger, and freelance writer who strives to understand her own motives, actions, and responses with a view to living her most authentic life. In 2017, she launched vivfortoday.com, where she blogs her heart out. Through her blog and her coaching business, she helps inspire others to live with peace, joy, and positivity. For more from Viv, subscribe to her newsletter or follow her on Instagram.