It’s well known by now that the introverted personality generates energy by being alone. The virtues of solitude have been extolled by many with benefits including freedom, creativity, and psychological well being. However, for some reason, society seems to fear, even chastise, the solitary individual: the person having dinner in a restaurant alone, the girl reading alone in the park, or the man strolling through the streets of a new city, is viewed as lonely, rather than free.
Alone time is possibly the best time that one can spend as an introvert. Oftentimes I have opted for a quiet night in, turning down offers to attend parties, dinners and the like. Sometimes, however, the prospect of spending an evening alone can seem a little daunting, but in recent times I’ve developed a little schedule, which I would like to share, so that you too can revel in the glory of a quiet night in.
1. Watch a film by an artist
Most films that are written by artists are very strange. But that’s exactly what makes them so interesting. It’s fascinating insight into an artist’s mind, and how other people go about expressing different subjects in film. It can be a bit of a ricochet effect too – one thought can lead to another, and in the end you will have come up with some truly unique ideas that you may have not gotten otherwise. Try Orpheus by Jean Cocteau — it’ll certainly get you thinking. Andy Warhol has a whole bunch of films you can pick from. Or even try something from a surrealist filmmaker like Luis Buñel.
2. Make a meal of it
Create your own little restaurant in your kitchen. Pick a cuisine and make your favourite delicacies. Decorate your eating area with fitting items, like some nice stemware and your favorite crockery.
3. Get to know yourself a little more
When alone, one should embrace the opportunity for some self-reflexivity. Maybe write your thoughts down. Think about who you are, who you admire, how you can achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself. Reflect on the things that make you fundamentally you. The more you know about yourself, the more self-aware and comfortable you can be with yourself, and in turn with other people.
4. Jazz it up
Select any soundtrack which lets you release tension, anything that makes you well. If that happens to be a tearful ballad, go with that. If it happens to be a 2-minute fist-pump, go with that.
This may seem like a difficult, or perhaps even harsh suggestion, but unplugging from technology for a while, even just an hour, can compel you to focus on what you’re doing. If you’re concerning yourself with what other people are doing, you’ll be distracted from feeling good about your alone time. Plus, you’ll remember that great book you bought a few months ago that’s now collecting dust on your bookshelf.
6. Oil on canvas
Solidarity is often cited as one of the many propellants of creativity, so why not leverage that? Start a painting, a sculpture, or maybe something a little more abstract. Try to get out of your regular routine, and open your mind to new adventures. Browse through some art history books, or whatever you find visually stimulating – it could even be the pattern on your rug. Grab some pencils, and sketch away.
After an hour or two of being socially ‘on,’ we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn’t antisocial. It isn’t a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Jonathan Rauch
Image credit: Laura Makabresku