Every time I start a post, it feels like I’m shunning what culture has taught us about everything. In this case, I’m shunning the idea of loneliness. Culture tells us that it’s not normal to be alone. We reject the idea because we treat it as a negative experience that’s being forced upon us. I have a different perspective. I guess I must find the distinction between being lonely and being alone. Being lonely hurts, but the mere act of being alone does not have to be the same connotation. Spending time with yourself can actually benefit your social relationships, improve confidence, and regulate emotions when surprises come in life.
The mental health benefit alone is a reason to start spending time with yourself. Spending a few minutes alone provides a calming effect that allows us to engage with others. In order to take advantage of this health benefit, you must choose to actually take the time for yourself. Since we take being alone as some sort of punishment, we rarely see the benefits.
Why We Hate Being Alone
The reason why we treat solitude as a negative probably comes from our childhood. How many times have you been placed in solitude as a punishment? As a kid, you were asked to sit in the corner or go to your room. As a teenager, you were grounded and weren’t able to see your friends. Even when it comes to the prison system, the worst thing that can happen to you is solitary confinement.
Experts also talk about how social creatures humans are, but only lean to the extreme. There are not many people championing the fact that you can be social and secluded at the same time. This causes us to not go out if we aren’t going with another person or a group of people. Our ego takes over. We go to a social place like the bar, or a club, and we see others being social, thinking we have to be the same way too. When really, all you want to do is dance. So instead, we stay home and watch Netflix.
What to Do Instead
The most restful activities we do are those that we do alone. Even with the social stigma, there are plenty of times when we just want to be alone. You may have felt this feeling, but since we don’t really have a word for the opposite of loneliness, it just becomes misplaced anxiety and frustration. It has nothing to do with being introverted or extroverted. There’s a lot of pressure in being social. The less pressure you have to make sure you go to an event or talk to someone on the phone, or any other social obligation, the more time you have to discover new interests and ideas. Guess what? Opinions aren’t needed.
Being alone in this period of life has helped me find my sense of self and my true interests. Knowing myself makes it easier to find people who align with my character. It’s also allowed me to be more empathetic toward others.
If you’re trying to find a way to make more time for yourself, maybe treat yourself as your best friend. If you as my best friend want to go do something, go do it. You don’t need anyone else. Schedule time out, even if it’s just 30 minutes to eat and read a book. Take yourself out on dates. What I’m saying isn’t easy because it wasn’t easy for me. It’s definitely going to take you out of your comfort zone. Start small.