A friend of mine (who gave me permission to reference her here) recently went through a really bad breakup. It’s hurt her in so many ways since it was a 4-year relationship. But one of the biggest ways it’s affected her? She doesn’t know how to be alone.
See, she went from living with her parents while she was in high school, to living with a roommate in a dorm, to living with her boyfriend in an apartment. She had never really been alone. She had never really had “alone time” either. She was always around people. She’s having a really tough time figuring out how to be by herself. 🙁
This seems to be so common nowadays. In this world, we’re all so connected. If we’re not hanging out with our boyfriend, we’re with a friend. If we’re not with a friend, we’re at work or school with other people. If we’re not with those people, we’re with a family member. And even if we’re alone physically, we’re on social media!
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be with people. Even introverts like myself need social interaction, even if my circle is small. But I don’t think it’s good to be so connected to others that we feel uncomfortable with our own company.
Here are some signs that you might not be spending enough time alone:
- You constantly feel irritable
- You have trouble sleeping
- You get frequent colds, allergies, or headaches
- You have a hard time concentrating
- You feel drained and disconnected
Even if you’re married or have a roommate or live with your parents or family, it’s good to just take a break and learn to be on our own once in a while. Because my friend never did that, and she doesn’t know how now. And while she has all of these people who are here for her no matter what, I think it’s good that she’s learning to lean on herself too.
So I just wanted to share some of the benefits of spending time alone:
– You can finally unwind and recharge.
When you’re constantly around other people, you’re constantly in “on mode.” Your brain is constantly going and you don’t give it a chance to relax. This is especially important if you’re an introvert because introverts need downtime to reboot so they don’t burn out.
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– You can figure out who you really are.
When you spend time doing things by yourself, without the constant input of others, you’ll start to realize who you are and what you like. It’s nice to be able to do whatever you want, try whatever you want, eat whatever you want, watch whatever you want, go wherever you want, etc. You might start to make different decisions and do different things when there aren’t other people around. It’s good to learn who you are as an individual – not just as a girlfriend or a friend or a daughter, or anything else to anyone else. Just you.
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– Your creativity might just grow.
When you remove outside influences, your creativity might just grow into your own unique style. So if you like to draw, design, paint, write or spend time on any other creative hobby, try doing it while you’re alone. And try other creative things too – you might find something else that you love. Studies even show that creativity flourishes when you’re alone and the effort is all about you.
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– Your relationships with others will improve.
Spending more time away from your friends, family, and/or significant other will help you cherish those relationships more. When you’re spending more time away from someone, you’ll likely enjoy the time that you spend with them more. And on the other side of things, once you’ve started spending time alone and figured out who you are, what you like, and what you want, you’ll probably make wiser decisions about who you actually want to spend your time with.
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– You’ll have more time to pause and think.
When we’re constantly on “go,” we’re so caught up in what everyone else is saying, in life and on social media, and we can barely hear ourselves and our own thoughts. This is great for a while but eventually, you’re going to need a break. It’s nice to have solitude to stop and organize our minds. To figure out how we feel about things, to think about what we’re doing, to just get our thoughts and feelings out. This isn’t just healthy, it’s necessary.
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– You’ll become more independent.
It’s great to have people who you can depend on but when it comes down to it, you are the one most responsible for your happiness. Even though I’m married, it’s still good to know that I could be independent if I needed to. Spending time alone can help you feel more comfortable in the fact that even though you have or want other people, you don’t need anyone else but you.
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– It will boost your self-esteem.
As you start becoming comfortable with spending time alone, your self-esteem will probably grow. You’ll start to enjoy your own company, discover yourself, and figure out what you like. This is a great self-esteem boost because eventually, you’ll discover that you are enough. If all you had to depend on was yourself, you’d be okay because you like who you are.
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Do you like spending time alone or is it something you struggle with?