To our individual sense of worth and our functionality, perhaps what every one of us needs is some vindication of who we are. Connections with our inner selves can be lost in the constant distraction from friends, gadgets and unnecessary demands. Against the popular idea that being alone or doing things alone is strange, shameful and for losers – the proven benefits of solitude can sometimes be lost or forgotten. It is important to consider how being your own best friend can increase and boost the very elements of humanity that allow individuals to thrive.
My name is Didem and I am an extrovert who spends a lot of time alone.
I mention extrovert, as it is usually surprising to others that I enjoy the solitude, as I am also super social, love making new friends and feel energized after nourishing time spent with others. I live a social life. I am a writer, a coach, and a speaker. I meet around 20 new people a month. I travel to new places each year for writer’s festivals, workshops, theatre events and leisure in order to increase and promote connectivity and productivity in my life.
However in order to have the energy and endurance to tackle my goals, to feel positive, energetic and content- I need to allow myself solitude. Here’s why you should too.
- Getting to Know You
Who am I, what are my values, what makes me happy, what makes me sad, what are my attributes, what are my internal obstacles, what sort of people do I attract and why, am I thriving or just surviving, what makes me get up in the morning, what obsesses me, is my head voice positive or negative? … these questions and more can be vital to unlocking your hidden potential and your true self. Knowing what makes you happy can help you avoid situations and people who don’t make you happy. There is the self that we project to the world on an everyday basis. Freud would call this Ego. Then there is the collection of layers which are an accumulation of experiences, feelings and thoughts which contribute to one’s own personal mythology. These are precisely the layers that make up ‘self’. By dedicating alone time to ask these questions, you can develop a strong and compassionate relationship with yourself and go out into the world everyday with knowledge and bravery.
- Oh The Places You Will Go
I LOVE travelling by myself. Don’t get me wrong I spent a crazy new years on beach comber fiji when I was 20 with girlfriends, did a three day no sleep, no rules vacay slay in Vegas at 24 and have had a few other sneaky little group experiences to boot, but nothing compares to the knowledge I’ve gained through being in foreign countries by myself. Try having your passport and 400 euro cash stolen on a train in Paris and trying to figure it all out with no French and a stubborn Australian consulate. Try walking through Kathmandu valley trying to get back to the monastery I was teaching English at after going hiking by myself. These circumstances thrust me out of my comfort zone and strengthened my logic, my confidence and my survival skills in ways that don’t compare to Bellinis at the Bellagio! It’s not only through travel either. There is something to be said for the girl who takes her book to the local café, to the sun kissed beauty who takes in the fresh air at the beach and to the many sisters who choose to live, exercise and learn on their own. I have learned that by purposefully placing myself in environments where it might get tricky, that I am actually developing reliance and am capable of being totally and completely ok with myself. And this is the most important relationship.
- Building Confidence
What does it take to be able to book a weekend away with yourself, to check out the new hip wine bar on your own after work, to approach the supermarket counter with a packet of pads, a solitary steak and a bunch of asparagus clearly intended for a solo night in? It all takes confidence. But as I’ve proposed above, confidence is built through action and action becomes second nature through repetition. So make a move! Do the thing that scares you. And through the positive understanding of solitude and the positive use of solitary time such as meditation, deep thinking, exercise, reading, learning, cooking, gardening, creating- you can be on your way to building the necessary confidence to tackle bigger feats such as travel, public speaking, creating a start up, a non profit or a volunteer chain.
- Learning Deep Self Acceptance
There’s a fear that many people have in common. It’s the fear of being alone. Essentially humans are pack animals, we enjoy sticking together and can become bored if left alone too long. The truth is, that for some people, too much alone time isn’t seductive, and they just don’t understand it. Honestly, this is ok. There is a quote, ‘If you’re bored by yourself, you mustn’t be in very good company’. It stuck with me, because there was definitely a time in my youth where I didn’t want to spend too much time alone, for fear that I would learn something about myself I didn’t like, or that too much thinking would upset me because id inevitably start thinking about wounds or bad experiences. But as I’ve moved through life, I’ve understood that all of these things that we spend so much time trying to avoid, are exactly the areas that need to be looked at, and accepted in order to become the best version of ourselves. Shine the light on every corner of your self and grow to love it, because this is it, and once the self acceptance is nourished, you can watch your life flourish.