When I was younger, I was a bit of a loner. I was also seemingly afraid of going places in public alone (not so anymore, though sometimes I do struggle with it). A lot of people have trouble with the idea and practice of solitude. Maybe it’s rooted in the biological survival instincts, that part of humanity which propelled the species survival through social connections and conformity within a group. After all, solitude can lead to horrible possibilities, such as accidents with no one around to save you from certain death. It’s also, seemingly, the opposite of the biological imperative to mate and reproduce. Despite this primal fear, there are a lot of benefits to solitude.
The first benefit of solitude is peace and quiet. Even if your mind is chaotic to begin, over time, loneliness transforms into peace. If you’re like me, jumping from one stressful and unstable situation to the next, you’ve likely never experienced peace and quiet before. At first it’s terrifying. It feels like you’ve been thrown into a cold cell. It’s isolating. I cried hard, letting out years of pent up suffering, for days upon experiencing true solitude for the first time. (I define true solitude as being in one’s own space to the degree that someone else won’t just come through the front door in a few hours or days, the state of being truly alone in a place.) It feels isolating at first but once you’re comfortable, you realize it isn’t so isolating after all. The peace sets in once the chaos calms.
Another benefit is clarity. Solitude comes with the inner clarity to understand yourself without the influence of others. I’m highly empathic so for the first time, I know who I truly am. I know what I truly feel and think. There’s no one to impress and nobody to criticize, whether you’re the critical one or someone else is habitually critical of you. With clarity and self-awareness comes yet more peace of mind and spirit.
My favorite benefit is that, in solitude, the only opinion which actually matters is your own.
If you have a history of codependency and abandonment, it allows you to slow down the panicked neediness and realize that you’re just fine – even better – on your own. Solitude has the power to improve your relationships because you have more energy but you’re also more whole. The empty spaces in your soul don’t gape open anymore and while you’re far from where you might want to be, you’re better off than you were on other people’s merry-go-round.
Solitude gives art time and space to exist. I don’t know about you but it isn’t easy to create when others are around. Even just the presence of others gets in the way because presence demands attention. The worst is when someone insists on having your complete attention when they know you’re In The Zone. It’s next to impossible to read (and more importantly, understand) or write when those around you create noise and chaos as easily as breathing.
Solitude is healing. It heals the mind and the spirit, especially when those bodies are raw from mistreatment (whether unintended and environmental or intentional). Solitude is a refreshing gift so cherish it when you have it. For those experiencing loneliness because you haven’t yet embraced the good of it, believe me when I say it might be scary now but it will get so much better.