A lot of people fear being alone. Introverts, on the other hand love it … except when we don’t. The truth is that there is an art to being alone, and sometimes even introverts miss the mark.
You can’t blame us. There are so many ways that society makes it hard for introverts to enjoy our alone time.
One of the most obvious ways they do this is by lumping loneliness and aloneness together, as if you can’t have one without the other. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Alone or lonely?
“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.” ― Audrey Hepburn
Alone and lonely are not the same thing, or at least, they don’t need to be. For introverts, solitude can be a sweet sanctuary, offering nourishment for our mind and soul. But too much time alone can sour the sweetness of solitude.
Loneliness is the bitter aftertaste of expired solitude. Click to tweet
Avoiding the sting of loneliness is a matter of knowing the shelf life of your particular brand of solitude. For some introverts, an entire day alone is too much, for others it is not enough.
Extending solitude’s shelf life
Sometimes, you can extend the vitality of your solitude by adding the right ingredients — an animal friend, a walk in the forrest, a thick and delicious book.
You can have your slice of solitude and enjoy it, too. And when it’s time to come up for air, you can return rejuvenated to the people you care about.
Trade guilt for passion
Often, we are so busy feeling guilty and self-conscious about our aloneness that we can’t enjoy it. I’ve noticed that when I start comparing myself to my more extroverted friends, my once lovely alone time gets swallowed up by guilt.
I start to feel lonely, but it is not because I am alone. It is because I am not allowing myself to enjoy my solitude.
On the other hand, when I sink into my solitude, and immerse myself in a creative project, I barely notice that I’m alone.
The next time your solitude starts turning sour, push your guilt aside and focus on a creative project or passion.
Quiet the Should Voice
An introvert’s alone time is easily sabotaged by what I call the “Should Voice”. This is the voice that reminds us of all the productive things we should be doing instead of enjoying our solitude.
Perhaps, the Should Voice tells you that you should be out with friends, or running errands. I know how frustrating it is to feel like you have to be productive every second of the day. But what if being productive isn’t what you think it is?
Sometimes, as introverts the most productive thing we can do is relax, switch off, and turn inward. Remember, introverts literally gain energy by being alone. We need to do nothing for a while so that our brain stays sharp and we feel our best.
Grow in Solitude
One of the greatest gifts of introversion is the ability to discover the many treasures hidden within solitude. Our alone time helps us to reconnect with our intuition, become more self-aware, integrate our experiences, and gain wisdom.
Enrich your alone time by embarking on a journey of self-discovery. Read a self-help book, journal, meditate, or watch a documentary. It will feel good to know you’re expanding your mind, and growing your soul in solitude.
That said, solitude doesn’t have to be all buttoned-up and serious …
Alone can be fun
Being alone can be fun. After all, didn’t you always love snow days growing up? It was such bliss to stay home in your pyjamas playing, watching cartoons, reading, drawing, or doing whatever else you fancied.
You don’t need a snow day — or a permission slip of any kind, for that matter — to enjoy your alone time. Have a pyjama day at home and do whatever your innie heart desires..
Alone is a form of self-love
There is one more reason we introverts don’t allow ourselves to enjoy solitude. Deep down we know that doing so is an act of self-love. Unfortunately, many introverts are more prone to self-punishment than self-love.
That’s why I created my Unshakeable Self-Love for Introverts workshop. It’s the best way to put an end to self-critical thoughts and boost your self-love levels to new heights.
What about you?
Can you relate to what I shared in this article? How do you like to spend your sweet solitude? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂
I realate to this so much. Reading this made me feel refreshed
I’m so happy to hear that, Katie! 🙂
I enjoy being alone and have time for myself daily. I like to watch a movie without anyone speaking or to gather my thoughts. I even enjoyed living alone before getting married. I would shut the door on the world and smile to myself. I would plan my evenings; my meal, a film to watch, book to read or just listen to the radio.
I understand loneliness can be crippling and that some have no choice but to be alone. I had and have a choice to be in the company of others. I do not take that for granted.
Thanks for sharing that, Phoenicia. Yes, living alone can be bliss. 😉
I’m a big advocate of Time Alone. Once I’ve learned how to enjoy my own company, it became my ultimate source of recharging and endless possibilities. You’ll never hear me say I’m bored because, seriously, I’m never bored. I can sit on a cafe table and people watch for hours. Or I might get lost in a book, or my numerous creative projects. It’s hard to explain to my friends (my boyfriend mostly) that my internet absence often just means I’m having fun on my own terms.
And I hope there’ll be a moment in humankind in which it’ll be perfectly fine to go the movies alone. Sometimes you just don’t want to share your popcorn bucket, you know?
Exactly! I love going to the movies alone! 😉
Ooo! I love alone time! I can do absolutely nothing, I don’t have a need to talk, nor dress. Just relaxing in my own presence. For the past few weekends, I have not contacted friends, spoken to family a little, but the calmness… I vegged out on movies… and then went to the movies theatre… peaceful!
I have also felt the anxiety of being lonely too, for me the physical is that I am not content and pace the floor, and mentally I can’t relax my mind wondering what others are doing, and how I want to find out and join them, then I feel like no they didn’t invite me, so I won’t intrude; back to floor pacing.
Then the decision to enjoy myself and I will go to the movies, a play or dinner by myself. That calms the spirit for that night.
I have to bring myself back to a state of being still…
I was quite struggling but it made me feel good… Thnk u Michaela and btw u r beautiful ??
You must know me personally because you are so right on with these posts! Especially the one this one! Thank you for helping me to not feel like there is something wrong with me!!??
Thank you SO much for this website. I have been feeling overwhelmed and anxious for a long time now and did not even realize that I am actually an introvert and have not been re-energizing in the right way. This helps so much. Thanks!
Happy New Year to everybody from the Netherlands. Living in a senior commune- I`m 75- is not always simple. Having no tv I always seem to miss something, but I don`t care. And after I read some books on Introverts in english, I started to except myself. So the book “The Year Of The Introvert” is a real good help for understanding myself better.
Btw: the evening of New Year I didn`t join our senior group for the yearly wishings, but started sleeping at 21.45h while listening to the oldies like Joan Baez, Dolly Parton, Brenda Leen, Emmelou Harris etc….And instead of mailing my Wilmadear, we`ve started writing letters. Though she lives just 10 minutes away , it`s so surprising to read the letters we wrote! Being retired there`s a lot of time, spending in a kind of coffeebar, writing in my diary, enjoying all the people around.
Oh my gosh, this is all me! I’ve been single the majority of my life (married for 12 years, divorced for 1 year now), and am 54. Being alone is NOT being lonely for me … like Audrey Hepburn (bless her), it is how I re-fuel, re-charge, and feel most myself. I used to joke that I was an expert “putterer”, and I know now, it’s my super power, and how I make myself feel whole and energized. Thanks for the article, Michaela!