Being alone and feeling lonely are two completely different notions. Many people feel lonely even when they’re in a crowded room. Others spend plenty of time alone without ever feeling lonely. This is evidence that although solitude and loneliness often go hand in hand, the two are vastly different. I’ve personally observed that the more peace you find in solitude, the more likely you are to be categorized as a “loner” in this society. But what exactly does embracing solitude mean? Why is it so frowned upon to simply enjoy spending time alone in this society? And most importantly, how does solitude contribute to one’s success?
The most interesting part about embracing solitude is that you must accept the intrinsic state of being alone. As in, you must really be comfortable in your own skin. We often put on a “face” for others in order to hide our shadow (the hidden, most dark parts about ourselves). But when you’re in solitude, you’re often forced to come face to face with your deepest, truest self. This can be extremely hard, especially for individuals who aren’t self-aware yet. There’s an infamous quote that says, you are your own worst enemy. This is especially true when someone lacks self-awareness. That’s the hard part about being alone. You can be anyone you wish to be around others, but at the end of the day when it’s just you laying in your bed, you’re forced to come to terms with who you authentically are. When you’re alone, you’re reminded that there’s nobody to share your thoughts with besides yourself. But when you’re lonely, you’re reminded that you’re not whole or complete in yourself. That’s the difference between solitude and loneliness: one is physical, the other is mental.
I’m not an envious person, but one thing I that I’ve always begrudged was introverts and their ability to gain energy from being alone. These people are at ease with themselves. They love their own company. Perhaps it’s the freedom that being alone offers… or maybe it’s the fact that when you’re alone, you don’t have to answer to anybody or be in any uncomfortable situations. Nevertheless, Ive always been jealous of introverts because they seem content with being alone, which is something that I’m just getting into in my twenties. As I grow older, I’m definitely starting to tap more into my quiet and more introverted side, but I think the most important part of this process has been embracing who I am without putting up a fight.
In a society where people receive gratification from swipes and likes, it’s easy to understand why so many people in the nation are suffering from depression and anxiety due to loneliness. The lack is self-esteem in over 80% of individuals is a pandemic that nobody wants to address, yet it’s the root cause for why people are so afraid of being alone. If you really break it down, you’ll realize that people who enjoy spending time alone typically are very confident in themselves. They’re also usually productive, self-motivated and feel like they have a purpose for life. Confidence is key. And there’s nothing that demonstrates more confidence than the ability to be content with being alone. Think about the last time you noticed someone eating alone in a nice restaurant. Odds are, you either thought they were a loner who got stood up, or you thought they were someone who’s really brave and sure of themselves. Either way, you’d be proving the points that I’m trying to make in this article: 1) that being alone is frowned upon in our society, and 2) being alone requires confidence and a certainty of self.
Loving others means accepting yourself first, and this is one of the main reasons why people who embrace solitude typically are more successful than those who don’t. In order to love yourself, you must first know thyself; and in order to know thyself, you must first spend time alone. Spending time alone is critical because it allows you to reflect on what you like and don’t like; it forces you to really dig deep into your mind, heart and soul, and it offers you a chance to analyze what works best for you and what doesn’t. Self reflection is crucial in life because it affords you the opportunity to go back in time, pause briefly, and decide on how to make better decisions in the future. If you don’t do this, not only are you not planning ahead, but you’re also more than likely spending a huge amount of the time only in the past and future and not the current moment, because self analysis and meditation is best practiced alone and in the present.
Another reason why solitude is incredibly important for success is because being alone boosts creativity and productivity. I recently read a book that talked about how inspiration must meet action in order for one to be successful, and along the same lines, the author mentioned how crucial it was for him to be in solitude while writing the book. Think about the last time you were alone. What did you do? Now, think about the last time you were in the presence of a group of 5 or more people… what did you do then? You most likely were more productive by yourself than when you were in the group setting. This is because you prioritize yourself when you’re alone. You are in charge of your own time. Don’t get me wrong, humans are wired for social interactions: we need other humans. However, being alone encourages you to be proactive with your life, and as I aforementioned, it can even give you time to meditate and reflect on who you want to be, and where you want to go in life.
I once heard someone say, “If you think you don’t have time to sit quietly and think, you probably need alone time more than ever,” and I couldn’t agree more with this statement. We ALL need time alone. In fact, loneliness adds beauty to life. In stillness lives wisdom, and in quiet you find peace. However, in solitude, you remember yourself. In solitude, you get to know thyself. Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. It’s the art of not giving a damn, and it’s the valor of enjoying your own company and being comfortable in your skin and soul. Solitude allows you to think, plan, and even create. It affords you the opportunity to be at peace without having to hear about the worries of the world. Nevertheless, it’s essential to have BALANCE in life. So I’m not saying go out, cut off all your friends and lock yourself in a basement somewhere in the name of solitude 😂 Just… take it easy. Be kind to yourself and recognize that it’s okay to be alone. That, in fact, most successful people are “loners”. The best ideas and inventions came from those silent moments within the artist’s mind and spirit. That’s a peace of heaven on earth that you can only get through solitude. That being said, I challenge you to stop using the word “lonely” and start embracing the word “solitude” instead. It will reframe your mindset and change your life. I promise 😘
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