Do You Have A Love Affair With Solitude?
I’ll tell you this short story, and you’ll probably think I’m a total downer, one of those curmudgeons destined to become a crabby old man when I hit my sixties. I don’t see myself as that way, but I won’t lie. Sometimes, I crave solitude. A familiar holiday scene played out in my neighborhood last night. It reminded me of my love affair with solitude.
I heard the voices outside our neighbor’s house. I snapped to attention.
“Quick,” I said to my wife. “Turn off the porch light. Close the blinds in the living room. Lower the television volume.”
“Huh,” she said.
“There are carolers next door.”
Yes, I went through all that trouble to make sure they would bypass our house. And thanks to my efforts, they spared us the self-indulgent holiday cheer. Note, I don’t really think of it as self-indulgent, but in my disquieted state of mind I couldn’t help but think of it that way.
Here’s the thing.
It was 8:30 at night. It was a long day. The kids had just gone to bed. I had just poured myself a glass of red wine and readied myself for a relaxing hour or two to unwind before bed. Plus, I’m an introvert. I desperately need some alone time each day. Do you ever feel like that?
You could argue that it took more effort to go through the charade of framing our house as though it were unoccupied than it would have been to indulge a bunch of well-meaning holiday singers.
There’s nothing wrong with needing time away from happy people.
No, at that moment in time, putting on a fake smile would have been more difficult. And why make these people go through the trouble if you don’t welcome their effort? Of course, from their perspective, cheerful singing would cure my solitude disease. Yeah, that’s bullshit. Sorry. There’s nothing wrong with needing time away from happy people.
It’s not uncommon to hear from friends and family that the holiday season stresses them out. It makes sense. It’s fun, yes. But there are obligations and expectations — some welcomed, some not.
I never verbalize these feelings, but I can’t be the only one who thinks it. Sometimes we say it in a round-about way.
“We survived another holiday season.”
“Finally, we can breathe easy until next year.”
So, if you’re like me, what do you do about this?
Ditch The Guilt
There’s no reason to feel guilty. Holidays can overwhelm you. Life can overwhelm you at times. I know there are some folks out there who need the company of others when things get crazy.
I’m not one of those people. I need time to myself. I value my alone time. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that, is there? If you’re one of those people who thinks the idea of alone time as morally corrupt, then stop reading here. I know there are plenty of people out there who hate being alone, regardless of their emotional state. This next part is for those who revitalize their mental energy with a healthy dose of solitude.
Take Care Of Yourself
If that means you have to shut the blinds and turn out the lights, so the shit- grinning happy police think you’re not home, go ahead and do that. You can’t take care of the ones you love if you don’t take care of yourself.
For me, that means drinking a glass of red wine while I write five-hundred to a thousand words and listen to meditation music. That is my idea of quality alone time. Give me one hour of that time to myself, and I can give you ten hours in return. Okay, maybe not ten hours but you know what I mean.
I’m sure you have a different idea of what quality alone time means. Imagine a world where you got one hour a day all to yourself. What would you do with that time? Yeah, I’m curious to hear what others like to do in this space.
I know what you’re thinking.
“Yeah, I’d love an hour a day to myself. I’m busy 24/7.”
I get it. You have obligations and responsibilities to others. If you don’t get that hour a day to yourself, then maybe you need to prioritize it. Are you a morning person or a night person? Can you wake up an hour early or go to bed an hour later? Can you talk with your partner and work out an alone time exchange?
Nobody ever writes, “works best in isolation” on their resume,
To Hell With Normal
Our society doesn’t always value people who feel that way. In business, we value words like collaboration and team. Nobody ever writes, works best in isolation on their resume. Perhaps we should. We might offer something valuable that collaboration-junkies lack.
I’m not under any illusion that I can change that, but maybe we can make a small change in our personal lives. It’s okay to step away and avoid the holiday cheer if it’s going to drive you insane. Take a little break. Do something by yourself if it makes you happy and peaceful.