Alone time is essential to the well-being of introverts. We need solitude to reflect and recharge. If we don’t have enough time to ourselves, we can quickly become harried, growling bundles of discontentment, waiting to implode.
But how much alone time is too much? As I’ve said before, introverts are not immune to the torment of loneliness. Too little social interaction and we risk crossing over into the darker realms of depression and hermitdom (not a real word, but you get the idea).
Some of you may have heard of the phenomenon in Japan known as “Hikikomori”. Hikikomori is defined as a state of self-imposed social isolation lasting six months or longer. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese youth have chosen to withdraw to their bedrooms for months or even years. These modern-day hermits shun all forms of social interaction in favor of unhappy seclusion.
While we’re on the topic of extreme hermit cases, I read an article a few months ago about the Maine ‘North Pond Hermit’. This man had spent nearly three decades in complete isolation in the Maine woods. His arrest for burglarizing a nearby youth camp for disabled children was believed to be his first contact with other people in 27 years.
Most introverts are a far cry from the Hikikomori youths and deranged hermits of this world. We know the importance of human connections. We value our close friends and family; however, we are susceptible to unwanted feelings of isolation. At times, our aloneness seeps into areas it doesn’t belong. Peaceful silence becomes a messenger of sadness; contented solitude transforms into loneliness.
Sure, there are some hermits that are pretty cool. I would love to be the wise sage living in an enchanted forest for a day or two. I also have great respect for the spiritual leaders who withdrew from the world so that they could be enlightened (props to Buddha). For the rest of us, the hermit life is unappealing and unnecessary.
When I go more than two days in a row without human interaction, I become restless. I begin to obsess over things that aren’t worth obsessing over. I start to feel agitated and morose. Soon, the dreaded “L” word begins to taunt me wherever I go. In my bedroom, in the kitchen, outside – even while watching a beautiful sunset – loneliness is there.
Loneliness can be especially tormenting for introverts who don’t have close friends or family nearby. Acquaintances just don’t do it for us. We need our trusted loved ones by our sides or we can feel lonely even when surrounded by people.
I have struggled with this during my travels. Because I usually couch surf, I am rarely completely by myself. But when you’re in a new country, surrounded by ‘friends’ who were strangers a day earlier, you can feel more alone than ever.
Perhaps you can spend five days in blissful isolation without feeling sad or lonely. Or maybe you can only handle one day of seclusion before you start itching for social interaction. The important thing is to know when it is time to reach out to those you care about and welcome them back into your world.
I don’t recommend the hermit life for most people, but If you really want to give it a try then go for it. But please, don’t ever steal from disabled children. Even by hermit standards, that’s just plain mean.
My brother is able to be a hermit without a drop of loneliness. I wish I could do it! I’m more extroverted than he is, but the perfect balance of true inner hermit happiness without loneliness sounds like nirvana to me.
I don’t know if it’s being a hermit, I know I am introvert, but I can Isolate myself for a week, Without any human interaction. As long as I have book and food.
When you find you’re starting to talk to yourself several times a day, and begin making plans for world domination, that’s a strong sign that you need more alone time.
Sometimes I talk to the plants.. other times I argue with an ex girlfriend who keeps asking me to stop calling her house. I think she’s just lonely. better give her a call, eh? thanks for the advice 🙂 xx
An equal balance is good. To much alone time can be bad. To much social interaction can be bad. Example: Me and my cousin used to hangout constantly and eventually ended up getting in a fight. I’ve had other friends and this happened as well. We would really enjoy hanging out for a while. Then end up in an argument. Time away probably would’ve been good. I use to be extroverted which tended to get me in trouble for some reason. Learned to be more introverted in my older age. Most of my social interactions are at work. Spend most of my off time alone and love it. To me there are good social interaction and bad ones. Playing softball/activities for me is a good one. Outdoor activities for me are fun. Going to a bar on the other hand for me is a bad one. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy going but in moderation. After a few hours of listening to loud music and not being able to converse with the person next to me, let’s just say I get a little annoyed. That’s why a lot of people get drunk while at the bar. Alcohol has a sedative effect in most cases. Anyway just wanted to put my 2 cents in. Enjoy your alone time, its good for you. You need alone time… If you don’t get alone time…. I would suggest looking for alone time. If you have a friend girl or boy. I would suggest time apart occasionally. Time apart will only make your relationship and time spent together a bit more cherished. So cheers self!!
Being alone and being lonely are two different things. I never get lonely, so there is no such thing as “too much alone time” for me. I know most people aren’t like that; humans naturally crave companionship, but there are exceptions to everything.
I don’t owe anyone my time or presence. If I /never/ needed human interaction, that would be fine. Maybe humans are just /evolving/ from our interdependent state and are becoming independent. I think that would be a lovely way for our species to evolve. We can’t remain a social species forever.
That’s a weird way to put it!!
We owe social interaction that credit for our development and survival as a species, you are coming out as plain ignorant, biased, and generalizing your experiences for most of people.
Although if you like your alone time, that’s a good thing, I don’t deny that, I’m just against generalizing your subjective experience and assertively imposing it over other people around.
Some people take forever to recharge, as well..every introvert functions differently, giving them a clear advantage over these situations, while other introverts need a bit of a both, from a healthy, and cognitive wellness standpoint, at the end of the day, it again, remains pretty subjective.