Note: I wasn’t sure how to approach the massacre in Orlando this weekend. On the one hand, when things like this occur (all too frequently, sadly), I use the time to step away from social media and deal with my emotions privately. On the other hand, this shooting happened mere hours from where I live. Terrorism has never felt so personal, so terrifying. I’m shocked, I’m sad, and I’m tired. I want senseless tragedy to stop. I want to stop reading about innocent people being taken from their families way too soon. I feel helpless and I feel scared. My thoughts and prayers are with these families who lost their loved ones.
Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time alone. Not just for a night, but for an entire day or an entire weekend. I’ve done this intentionally. I’ve actively carved out this time to be by myself, not dependent on anyone else for entertainment.
And it’s been amazing.
It’s everything I never thought I wanted. I used to be afraid to be alone with myself for too long… just the thought of a day by myself would cause my stomach to knot. I feared loneliness and silence and solitude. I feared looking like a freak if I went to the mall or to a restaurant by myself. I feared turning into a hermit.
But gradually, I have learned to appreciate these solitary weekends where I intentionally make zero social plans, intent on spending time with me. Time to write, to read, to nap, to watch Netflix, to organize my apartment, to lay out by the pool, to run errands. All of it alone.
There’s nothing more recharging than these solitary weekends. It’s soothing and necessary for my mental health.
The truth is, I think spending time alone is necessary, no matter if you are an extrovert or an introvert. Here’s why:
Alone time quiets our minds
When we clear out our distractions and let ourselves just be, we can quiet and calm our minds so that we have a chance to pause and reflect. When I’m alone, I don’t have to worry about anyone else but myself, which means I don’t have to be “on,” engaging in conversation and constantly processing information from my surroundings and other people. Our minds can be a noisy place when we’re always around people and interacting with the world. But when we allow for the quiet and peace, we’re able to reflect more freely and recharge more abundantly.
Alone time lets us explore our independence
Alone time doesn’t have to mean spending all day inside. It can also mean exploring somewhere new or experimenting with a new hobby by yourself. If you want to take that dance class, you can take it. If you want to go to that festival downtown, you can go. We don’t have to always be with people to try new things. This is something I’m still learning, because for a long time I did believe I could only do certain things if I had someone to go with me. But it’s been so empowering to do the things I want to do because I want to do them, not because I finally had a friend to agree to go with me.
Alone time allows us to be totally selfish and carefree
I think this is what I enjoy most about my alone time: I get to be totally, 100% selfish with my time. I get to do exactly what I want to do and I don’t have to check in with anyone else. For the longest time, I’ve looked at my singleness as a negative, but I’m starting to see it as a positive: it means I have the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want. It means I can take a nap at 3pm, eat ice cream for dinner, or spend all day reading a romance novel. That’s magical.
Alone time helps with productivity
One of the things I love most about alone time is that it allows me to get stuff done that I can’t get done when I’m spending my days around people and on the go. I can organize my home, make progress on my goals, and tackle projects that I just can’t get around to when my schedule is busy. Alone time can be peaceful and relaxing, but it can also be productive and useful.
Alone time helps us discover ourselves
What do you like to do? What are your interests? If you’re so busy saying yes to everyone else and don’t have the space to be alone and figure out exactly what you like, you’re missing out on a critical component. When you allow yourself this space of alone time, then you get to have this conversation with yourself to discover what you like to do, irrespective of other people.
I used to look at my alone time as a negative, but it’s really not. It’s a positive force in my life and I want to eek out as much joy and pleasure from it as I can. I’m in this time of my life where I can make the choice to spend entire weekends alone, and that’s because I don’t have a partner or children. Instead of feeling down about that, I’m seeing what a gift this time of singleness is: a time to be alone, discover myself, and enjoy this season. This is a gift I can give myself.
Obviously, there needs to be a balance between alone time and social time. I love planning a weekend alone every few months, and I also like to set aside one weekend day a couple times a month to be alone. It’s so necessary for me, and I’m glad I can finally admit that my alone time is something I crave without feeling guilty about it.
How do you feel about alone time?