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  • Writer's pictureapriladventuring

Day 7: The Need to Be Alone

Let me start by saying alone time is something I have always been passionate about.


I've gone through waves of being more extroverted, then more introverted, then back again. The pandemic really brought out my inner introvert once again and it seems she's here to stay.


I've learned to love and cherish time with myself -- and only myself.


That isn't to say I don't love hanging out with my friends, my boyfriend, friendly strangers and acquaintances. Because I do. But only when my social battery is up to it.


And too much social time makes me so antsy I want to crawl out of my skin and hide in the woods for the foreseeable future. Everything starts to drive me crazy. I get unreasonably irritated at whichever unfortunate soul happens to be around me (usually my boyfriend).


There's something so interesting about being an introvert that lives with someone. Both of us work from home in the same room. He's on the phone most of the day, so headphones are my attempt at feeling like I have my own world to escape to. It works sometimes.


It took me many years to understand that not everyone feels this way about needing alone time. And it took even more years (and therapy) to learn that these feelings need to be communicated and how to do so. It's still very much a work in progress.


Being someone who could (happily) spend weeks without interacting with another person, I find it shocking when anyone can't stand the thought of being alone.


It's a red flag for me. Is that unfair?


The way I see it, I've spent my entire life trying to become someone that I like, respect, and am proud of. Why wouldn't I want to spend time with that person understanding more about them and getting to know them?


When people aren't comfortable with only their own shadow, it makes me wonder what unsettled issues they have with themselves. Maybe that isn't true for everyone. Some say they can be alone, they just prefer to be around others. They're happier that way.


I fully believe relationships and human connection are key to a fulfilling life.


I also believe self-actualization is necessary. And this requires spending time with the self, getting to know your own purpose and needs, learning what goes on in your head when all external noise is taken away.


Of course some of this self-understanding can happen in the presence of others, but really knowing yourself means knowing the unfiltered version that only appears when there's no fear of judgment/comparison/jealousy.


Growing up, I never knew how much I needed alone time. I was usually alone. I could always escape to my room or our large yard (my early version of running away to the woods).


Thinking back on it, that upbringing is probably why I have that need as an adult. The vast majority of my non-school hours were spent alone. I'd browse the internet, journal, teach myself songs on the guitar or ukulele, or play make believe in the forest.


Alone time as an adult looks pretty similar, except now I can also drive out somewhere remote and have a more complete sense of being isolated if I want. I've also learned that solo travel is one of my favorite ways to spend my time. Road trips are especially wonderful because my car is my own private sanctuary and with me at all times.


What do you think? At what level does your need for "me time" sit? Can we as a society all agree to schedule alone time weekly??


In my romantic relationships, I've struggled with feeling smothered by a "normal" amount of contact. I still work constantly on fighting that feeling when my partner is just showing affection. I also really do try to schedule in that alone time when I can feel my social battery slipping into the red. When I'm good about it, I can catch myself before I reach peak irritability.


I hope your December is starting off beautifully and you're feeling festive. Thank you for reading and I'll catch you tomorrow.


Happy adventuring,

A

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