Spending time alone and why I’m okay with that.

30 October 2018

As an only child, I often get asked the question 'Don't you get lonely?' and my response is always no. Of course, I understand where this question comes from and why it may seem 'abnormal' to people that I have no brothers or sisters, don't get lonely and have turned out to be an outgoing and social person (who says the only child stigma exists)

In an age where we see everything that is happening in everyone's lives due to platforms such as; Facebook and Instagram, we are constantly surrounded by others, their constant life updates and the ongoing sensation of FOMO (fear of missing out), it is considered even more abnormal for someone to be okay with spending an evening alone despite having a multitude of plans, events and friends available.

I'm partial to the occasional shut down of everything that's happening around me to focus on me and me only. We all have busy lives where it's so easy to get wrapped up in the moment, that we forgot the most important things in life, like ourselves. 

Don’t get me wrong; I love my friends and family and LOVE being the centre of any party (these dance moves don't deserve to be wasted). But I can only do so much before my energy levels are depleted significantly. I used to be one of those individuals that was so fearful on missing out or being seen as 'not busy', I used to tire and burn myself out in order to attend as much as possible. But then after a lot of persuasion by wise people (my mum) and the self-realisation that it wasn't healthy for me to think I needed to be out every Friday and Saturday night or my life was practically over, i quickly learnt that spending time alone was okay and in fact had lots of benefits to it that are overlooked by the majority of people. So, what are they?

  • You get a well needed break - I often find it's not until I’m alone on a evening, relaxing and doing something that I enjoy that I realise how much I need a break from the whirlwind of life. Even the most sociable people out there need to take a break every now and then, or else the 7 letter word every person is trying to avoid approaches. What words is that, I hear you ask? Burnout. I went into more detail, speaking about Burnout in my last post ‘what graduate working life has taught me'. Whilst at university, I used to feel like I had to spend every hour of every day with people and that resulted in me feeling extremely tired and unable to give it my all. So, post university J gave myself the goal of spending at least one day a month on my own, with me myself and I. This is probably one of the best decisions I have made and I encourage you all to adopt something similar to give you that well needed rest you deserve. 

  • And because you take time out, when you aren’t on your own, the quality of engagement and interaction will increase a.k.a you’ll be better company in social situations. Referring back to my other point, not spending time alone can you turn you into a overtly tired, snappy, grouchy individual (trust me, i’ve been there). You can take so much of being ‘miss social queen of the universe’ before your energy is sapped, so having a little break can allow you to go back into a social situation feeling 10 times better and ready to be the best you. 

  • There is this perception that alone time is pigging out on the sofa with 2 tubes of Pringles and watching 3 seasons of Gossip Girl in a day. And whilst there’s nothing wrong with that - it’s a misconception. Alone time can be used to nurture and grow, take time to learn that new skill you've always wanted to learn and develop yourself as opposed to being able to recite the script for season 2, episode 4 of Gossip Girl (still nothing wrong with that). Business leaders like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Oprah spend five hours a week deliberately learning, so whatever it is - learning to code, learning a new language, learning how to monetise or SEO the hell out of your blog, just do it.

  • You know when you're in a restaurant and you see that person eating on their own and you admire them. Be that person. The person on their own not only has to have a load of balls to do that in the first place but those that are able to enjoy their own company also gain respect from others. We are in awe of them because they are truly happy in their own skin, not ‘needy’ or ‘dependant’and being in their own company is something they clearly enjoy. #Goals.

  •  You learn a lot about yourself. Not being surrounded by other people 24/7 allows you to learn a lot about yourself, from what you’re scared of to what you’re good at. When you’re alone you really appreciate what you as an individual can contribute - you completely rely on yourself to get over your fears. Living on my own and removing a spider from my apartment without having a breakdown is a prime example of this. However small the example, spending time alone allows you to realise how brave and courageous you actually are. 
“If you make friends with yourself, you will never be alone” ~ Maxwell Maltz
  • To me the most important thing is to like/love the person that you are. One of my friends is very dependent on other people and really struggles to spend time alone, and from being quite close to her I’ve seen how this mentally can detrimentally impact a persons health and well being. In my opinion, everyone should have those moments where they think to themselves, ‘actually i’m pretty amazing’ As humans, we never appreciate ourselves. We always think ‘yeah I like my colleague/sister/friend/neighbour because they are X,Y and Z’ but we are never like ‘I like me because I’m hardworking, kind and fun’. Both statements are great and I think we put so much effort into complimenting and finding everything to like about our loved ones. But forget to do this for ourselves. Love yourself first.

Looking at where I was three years ago whilst at University where a night in, to me felt like the end of the world to now where I would take a night in on my own to have a bath, dinner and take time to work on my own projects over a night out any day. I've now learnt it's all about balance. I've learnt to establish a framework in which 3 days of the week, I'm social i.e making plans after work or dedicating a day to my family or friends, then spending the other 3 days for me time and me time only - the other two days are completely up to me and allow me to either be content with either going out and spending time with friends/family or spending time by myself, without feeling a societal pressure to question what's wrong with me. 

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