Being Alone

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You may not be surrounded by your friends or other people but you always seen to have your phone or perhaps your computer or tablet nearby so you can stay in contact with your friends, your social media followers, your neighbors and even your co-workers.

Even when we’re all alone in real life, on a remote beach, in the middle of the woods or on top of a mountain. All it takes is a text, tweet or post from someone in your social circle to get in touch with you. We aren’t ever actually alone. Sometimes this can be very daunting.

Everybody needs some alone time. Some time to put your “head in a box” as I like to call it. Some time to be alone with your thoughts. This is especially important if you are trying to write something for publication like I do.

We don’t understand just what the exact amount of alone time we need is, or even if there is one. Most likely, these amounts are different for everyone. Some of us are fine with just being alone on our drive to and from work whereas some people might need some additional time to unwind even after they get home.

Whether it’s for your job, or for your own mental health because you need time to decompress or so you can binge on your favorite television series online and don’t want to share your potato chips, it is good to have some alone time.  Even some very sociable people like being alone sometimes.

I know quite a few people but sometimes I don’t want them to call, asking me a question or even to just say hello. Time in which I don’t need an opinion, think about how I feel, think about what I need to do. Time I don’t have to answer for at all. I certainly want people in my life, but the idea of that invaluable time alone is undeniably wonderful.

A few people may think it is egotistical to want to have some time alone but it can be extremely invigorating. Some people may equate being alone as being lonely.  This is an error. They are two totally different but related things. You can be alone without being lonely and can feel loneliness in a crowded room. We often fear being alone because we think that being alone will make us lonely.

A lot of people are fine with being alone. People may think being alone goes against our natural condition and somehow it does. Humans are naturally social creatures.  We join Facebook groups, clubs and socialize with people that share our common interests for this reason.

Quite possibly wanting to be alone is self-centered or maybe it just seems so. The best thing about being alone is having the independence to make your own decisions. You don’t have to compromise, you don’t have anyone getting in your way or telling you what to do. This is a valuable lesson for everyone. It’s important for you to spend some time alone, to decompress and to gather your thoughts away from the stress of day to day life.

Alone time to me is as refreshing as the feeling you get the first breath you take on a frigid winter morning or as invigorating as a cold shower on a hot August day. I imagine even extroverts love being alone occasionally because it’s a time they have the freedom to do what they want, when they want.

In a piece for The Atlantic titled “The Virtues of Isolation,” Brent Crane wrote of a scientific work regarding the positive aspects of being alone. “Increasingly scientists are approaching solitude as something that, when pursued by choice, can prove therapeutic,” he explained.

It turns out that that choice part is very important. Kenneth Rubin, a developmental psychologist at the University of Maryland, calls them the “ifs.” Crane wrote that. “Solitude can be productive only if it is voluntary, if you can regulate your emotions effectively, if you can join a social group when desired, and if you can maintain positive relationships outside of it.”

I know this is true, I want to be alone most when I am working on a project that requires my complete attention but I know I can easily have companionship of others when I want it. This is why couples try to find private spaces in their own homes, her “she shed” and his “man cave”.  But you can also be alone in the same room as someone else. For instance, when I am writing I sit in my recliner, focusing on what I am doing. Less than five feet away, my wife sits, knitting and watching television or reading a book on her Kindle. We are both alone in our thoughts but together in the same space.

We all need our time alone, but there’s this special feeling when you know that there’s someone there for you, waiting patiently, just the other side of the door. Another way to state this is if you know someone will find your body within 24 hours after you die in your home, I don’t believe you are really alone.