Learning to enjoy "me, myself, and I"
Many of us young adults (and some older ones, too), with our focus on self-growth and careers, tend to have rather individualistic lives. Whether that is caused by job pressure, transitioning to different cities, personal indulgences, or any other reason, we are trying to live lives full of ourselves and for ourselves. This, in my opinion, is absolutely wonderful! One consequence of highly individualistic lives, however, is aloneness. As you focus more on yourself and become the center of your world, space for other entities and people decreases. This can be a pleasant and unpleasant experience at the same time.
Having spent 6 years at a residential school in a hostel, 2.5 out of 4 years of college not at home, and 1.5 years working in a new city, I’ve spent a long time figuring out how to balance aloneness, how not to let it crush you mentally and emotionally, instead learn to enjoy it. Therefore, in this issue of the newsletter, we’ll discuss aloneness.
The difference between loneliness and aloneness
Firstly, when I say aloneness, I do not mean loneliness. Unlike how many people perceive this, they are two very different things. Aloneness refers to the physical state of being without others around. It does not have any positive or negative connotation; rather, it is a spectrum ranging from solitude to loneliness. If not made apparent from the last sentence, loneliness is an emotional state that causes feelings of isolation and disconnectedness from others, especially when one is alone.
The important thing to recognize here is that aloneness is not inherently bad. Many find the solitude it offers refreshing, a time for introspection, creativity, or relaxation. I, for one, cherish being alone as it allows me to engage in activities I enjoy without distraction, like writing this newsletter issue.
What impact can aloneness make?
Considering how you experience aloneness, it can positively and negatively impact you. Here are some of the pros and cons:
Pros of Aloneness
Self-Reflection: Aloneness provides an opportunity for introspection. It allows you to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which can lead to better self-awareness, thus enabling personal growth.
Peace: In a busy world, being alone can offer a much-needed break from the noise and demands of social interaction, allowing for relaxation and de-stressing. (I know how much I look forward to this post-work at night when watching Netflix or playing on my Nintendo Switch!)
Freedom: When alone, you can do what you want without considering others’ preferences or schedules. This independence puts all control and choice in your hands, which can feel empowering and satisfying.
Creativity Boost: Many people find they are most creative when alone, as solitude removes distractions and can help focus thoughts and inspire new ideas. Writers, painters, photographers (artists, in general) will relate to this.
Recharging: For introverts, especially, being alone can be essential for recharging their energy after social interactions. For example, there’s nothing I look forward to more after a clubbing night than just lying down by myself and reading a book with classical music in my ears. (I enjoy Beethoven, Bach, Tchaikovsky, and Mozart quite a lot)
Cons of Aloneness
Loneliness: Prolonged periods of being alone can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially if this aloneness is not by choice. This can have a substantial negative impact on someone’s mental health over a long enough time (been there, done that!)
Lack of Support: In times of need, being alone means having fewer immediate sources of emotional or practical support sources. These occasions may be circumstantial or planned, but they hurt just as harshly anyway and may, in the worst of times, cause people to take excessive steps.
Missed Social Opportunities: Being alone often means missing out on opportunities for socializing, networking, and experiencing new things with others.
Safety Concerns: Being alone, especially in specific environments or situations, can raise safety concerns, as there is no one nearby to help in case of an emergency. An example could be the sudden onset of an infection (or any other medical crisis), where the availability of company makes coping a lot easier.
Monotony: Without the stimulation from interacting with others, being alone can sometimes lead to boredom or a sense of monotony. This becomes significantly easier to manage with a hobby you can invest in, though.
How can I practice and enjoy aloneness?
Healthily practicing aloneness involves creating a space and mindset where solitude is embraced positively. Here are some ways you can achieve this:
Developing a routine that includes some alone time
Designating a comfortable space at home for your solitude
Practicing mindfulness via meditation (or other means)
Journaling your thoughts to express your thoughts and feelings
Unplugging from tech, mainly social media
Starting a new hobby, such as reading, playing an instrument, or cooking
Evaluate and set personal goals by reflecting on your life
This list is usually a starting point, but the most important point to remember is that to truly embrace aloneness, you must learn to enjoy your own company. Whether that is because of who you are or something you do, you must learn to appreciate yourself in this process. That’s the difference between solitude and loneliness. If you can learn to enjoy being with yourself, you’ll have no problem turning your alone time into an advantage to better yourself.
Note from the writer
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Thank you, and we wish you a very happy new year!