Why I need time alone

I like being alone.

I once typed “introvert” into Google, and it defined an introvert as someone who is shy, quiet, and self-centered. And that is exactly why I denied who I was for so long. I can be quiet, but I don’t consider myself shy. I really like to think I’m not any more self-centered than your average college student.

It took me a long time and some considerable research to realize that Google is wrong! (Gasp!) An introvert isn’t someone who’s shy and self-centered. Sure, introverts can be shy and/or self-centered, but that has nothing to do with the introverted part of them.

After spending time with friends and being around people for a few days, I find myself becoming grumpier and grumpier and just exhausted. As in, I need a two-hour nap or I can’t function. When this happens, I need to set aside a couple of hours for myself to “recharge”.

This is actually what alone time is — time to recharge. Introverts are drained by being around others. This doesn’t mean we don’t like people. It means that interacting with people takes a lot out of us.

This of course does not mean that I want to be alone at all times. As a music education major and future teacher, I love being around people. However, I also love myself and I need to take care of myself by giving myself what I need.

Nor does this mean that when I’m alone, I feel lonely. Many introverts know that they are more likely to feel alone in a room full of people than when in their room alone. To combat loneliness, I turn inward for comfort and familiarity.

As an introvert, you should never let someone convince you that the necessity of alone time is a hindrance to living your life. You should never feel guilty about spending time alone. Chances are, you’re more likely to enjoy your life outside of alone time when you do get time to reflect and recharge. You will be a happier, healthier you if you listen to that voice telling you it’s time to recharge.

Here’s what I do during my valuable alone time:

  • Actually just sit and stare into space. I allow myself uninterrupted time to think. I review the day, analyze conversations I had, think about what I’ve done to be productive, think about my plans for the near and far future, etc. I think about funny things and laugh out loud alone and I refuse to be ashamed of that.
  • Be productive! Guess what I did two nights ago in my alone time? Swept the garage, unloaded/loaded the dishwasher, watered the plants, played with the dogs, folded/put away clean laundry, made and ate dinner myself, and wrote five pages in my journal. I also use this time to sing and discover new stations on Pandora.
  • Run or exercise in another way. I consider running part of my alone time. I usually run on a treadmill with headphones on. Another reason I love running is because it’s a time when I can be active and simultaneously alone with my thoughts.
  • Read or write. It’s an escape. Not because I’m living vicariously through fiction because I can’t handle the troubles of my own world. In fact, I often read biographies and nonfiction articles. Reading gives my mind a rest when the thoughts become overbearing.

Get to know more about yourself through alone time. Try putting your phone away for a while. It might surprise you what you learn when you’re left to your thoughts and nothing else. Let yourself feel all the feelings. The more you know about yourself, the happier you will absolutely be.

The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.  Michel de Montaigne

Image credit: Deviant Art

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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an Introvert