It is in solitude that introverts recharge their energy and find the answers they are looking for.
In our society, wanting to spend time alone signals red flags of loneliness, depression, and even egotism — and the COVID-19 pandemic may have cast an even darker veil on being solitary. But introversion is defined, in part, by craving — and needing — alone time. Surely introverts don’t see solitude as some kind of emotional purgatory, but rather, as a nourishing means of well-being.
To be clear, I’m only discussing intentional solitude, which is a fundamental aspect of self-care. Intentional solitude happens when you have a choice in the matter, not when you are forced to be alone due to circumstances beyond your control.
I also want to note that there’s a difference between solitude and isolation. A lot of people, including introverts, deeply felt the isolation the pandemic has wrought, and I’m not in any way trying to diminish or criticize the impact it had. Nor am I claiming that introverts don’t need, value, or crave social connection. Even so, it seems to me that if we collectively stop stigmatizing solitude and learn to enjoy it instead, we would all benefit.
Introverts do often find a balance between social time and alone time, although the latter is their specialty. Here’s why introverts embrace being alone — and why you may want to give it a try, too (introvert or not).
10 Reasons Why Introverts Embrace Being Alone
1. It re-energizes them.
“Solitude is refreshment for our souls.” –Naomi Judd
For introverts, our energy slips away in social situations until we’re left exhausted, creating what introverts the world over are no doubt keenly familiar with: the introvert hangover. Often, this is when we retreat into our own private worlds, preferably with a book, cup of tea, and a cat or other beloved pet: the perfect care package for the quiet mind and soul.
While too much socializing is overwhelming, solitude is intrinsic to regaining that spent energy. After being alone, introverts feel strengthened and restored, ready to face the world again (or at least Zoom).
No one, regardless of their personality, can bounce around all the time. Inevitably, if you’re “on” without sufficient “off” time, you’ll burn out. Alone time helps counteract that, creating a simplified, peaceful atmosphere to recharge.
2. It increases their sense of calm and peace.
“The forest spoke to my soul in a language I already knew; a distant lullaby from the womb of peace and solitude.” –Angie Weiland-Crosby
When the door to a chattering world is closed, you have space to breathe and the opportunity for inner peace. Solitude removes obligatory pressures, alleviates conflicts that arise, and provides a space for cooler heads to prevail.
Something I find interesting is how, after a long, exhausting day, we usually choose relaxation methods that are typically solitary, such as journaling, yoga, art therapy, aromatherapy, and more. Yes, we could do these things among people — but do we? Generally, the only other individuals who might be around are the ones we cherish the most. Otherwise, we usually soothe ourselves alone to find a sense of calm and peace.
3. It provides them with a contemplative ambience.
“In solitude I find my answers.” –Kristen Butler
Solitude naturally creates a contemplative atmosphere, clearing your mind of excessive noise so you can ponder life’s complex and intricate questions or simply self-reflect.
In today’s fast-paced culture, the act of contemplation is dismissed as a waste of precious time that could be spent on material gains or on socializing. But being reflective has major benefits all on its own.
And it’s true — like Kristen Butler says: In solitude, we find our answers.
4. It amps up their creativity.
“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” –Albert Einstein
Although some researchers assert that collaboration increases creativity, we only need to peer into history’s greatest inventions, discoveries, and masterpieces to learn that, most often, epiphanies and breakthroughs lie in solitude. There, the peaceful, contemplative environment inspires creativity.
Take the frizzy-haired professor who locked himself away to contemplate the laws of physics and develop two powerful theories that upended previous work and revolutionized science. Or take the blind and deaf composer, sequestered in his attic to compose masterpieces that still resonate in concert halls and home music rooms alike, providing a basis for a whole new era of music.
Einstein and Beethoven are famous examples, but all of us can benefit creatively from solitude, where ideas can be discovered without the opinions of others dampening the joy of simply creating.
5. It makes them more independent.
“It takes nothing to join the crowd. It takes everything to stand alone.” –Hans F. Hansen
Interestingly, one theory in the field of developmental psychology states that children learn self-confidence if their independence is encouraged. Part of this means refraining from micro-managing every detail and allowing solitude. If this is fundamental for cultivating the resilience of children, how much more so for adults?
When we spend significant amounts of time with others, they influence our thinking and opinions, even in subtle ways. Although we may retain our independent circumstances, whatever they may be, it’s all too easy to let our individuality slip. Some people feel that they should mold their opinions to suit those of others, likely because of low self-worth, in an effort to avoid conflict, or due to peer pressure. Society conditions for conformity.
On the other hand, solitude is for individuality, when we’re free to evaluate all sides of a given situation.
6. It improves their relationships.
“I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other.” –Rainer Maria Rilke
It may seem counterintuitive, but being alone — and therefore apart from others — can strengthen your gratitude and appreciation for them. I’m sure many would agree that the past year of isolation and restrictions has taught us a harsh lesson in not taking our loved ones for granted. As things return to a semblance of normal, let’s remember the impact those closest to us have on our lives.
Solitude also helps improve empathy and compassion for those outside our social clique, offers a neutral ground to reevaluate friendships and associations, and provides time to genuinely anticipate the needs of others.
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7. It helps them enjoy the simplicity of life.
“Joy is not in things; it is in us.” –Richard Wagner
Solitude and simplicity, in my mind, complement each other. In solitude, it’s easier to welcome simplicity, and with a simple life, solitude comes naturally.
The simpler your life is, the less stress you’re likely to have. And simplicity breeds the opportunity to evaluate your personal values, which are crucial to living mindfully.
The pandemic forced many of us to step off the merry-go-round of life. For me, I appreciated the social reprieve. For others, they were able to spend more time with family. But now, our former lifestyles are trickling back. Perhaps, as your life returns to “normal,” find ways to slow down and embrace simplicity.
8. It improves their productivity.
“Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.” –Picasso
Our culture is a tad too obsessed with productivity. Personally, I tend to prefer more intentional, thoughtful, meaningful work, not being a mindless busybee.
Nonetheless, tasks need to be checked off, projects completed, and deadlines met. Without the distractions of people chattering, it’s easier for introverts in particular to get things done. A quieter environment (read: where you’re the only other human being) can lead to improved performance and productivity for many of us quiet people.
9. It increases their self-awareness and confidence.
“The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none.” –Thomas Carlyle
It is in solitude that you can understand yourself and process your thoughts and emotions — and that self-awareness is imperative to every aspect of life, from relationships to work to spirituality. Self-awareness offers grounds for improvement, and these factors can also help build confidence, without the criticism of others, helping you grow more comfortable in your own skin.
Arguably, many people detest solitude because their darker thoughts haunt them in the silence — this is rumination in play. In the presence of company, these thoughts and feelings can be chased away into the deep recesses of the mind, allowing for more positive thoughts to seep in and keep those others at bay.
However, chasing them away doesn’t mean they simply dissipate and never return. Instead, they fester and rot, creating an even greater problem. Often, by touching on these things in solitude, you allow yourself to solve them and really heal from them.
10. It ups their inner joy.
“No one is responsible for your inner peace and inner joy except for you.” –Debasish Mridha
There is a perpetual ebb and flow of happiness, but inner joy has longevity. And while interpersonal relationships can add richness to life, ultimately, it’s up to us as individuals to discover and retain our joy. Take charge of your own mind and focus on the things that make you happy — and the short- and long-term — while spending time alone.
Quick Tips for Spending Time Alone
- Find a quiet place
- Schedule alone time on your calendar
- Disconnect from technology
- Pick up a hobby
- Be secure with yourself
- Try journaling
- Spend time in nature
In truth, everyone can benefit from solitude, including extroverts. It is a valuable resource that shouldn’t be dismissed, but instead should be cultivated with wisdom and moderation; it’s a skill like any other that requires practice, though it may come more naturally to some of us than others.
There’s an essential balance between being social and solitary, and this continuum will vary depending on individualistic needs, personality, and circumstances.
Many people have deeply felt the isolation the pandemic has wrought, and crave social stimulation. If this is you, don’t be afraid to reach out for a meaningful connection to someone in a safe way. As mentioned, there’s a precarious balance that must be noted. Develop meaningful friendships with others, reach out to someone you know who may be feeling the effects of isolation, and help others. These are healthy ways to both find your balance and make a difference in the world.
My fellow introverts, what are your thoughts about solitude? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!