Alone Time Isn't Antisocial, It's Good For You

We get so worried about being lonely that we overlook the benefits of solitude.
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Monica Gabriel Marshall
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We get so worried about being lonely that we overlook the benefits of solitude.

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“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

I have always been a people person; everything just seems better when I have a companion. Living in New York City, I am in “People Person” heaven. I never want for company and rarely exceed my maximum capacity for alone time.

At the office, on the subway, in my apartment; I am constantly surrounded by people and hyper aware of others around me. It is even difficult for me to recall the last time I have experienced that peaceful quiet that settles in when I am completely alone. Lately, I have found myself craving silence; the kind of silence that comes from the complete absence of human static.

A 2011 Boston Globe article by Leon Neyfakh, entitled The Power of Lonely, includes some interesting research on the benefits of alone time. Neyfakh quotes Eric Klinenberg, a Sociologist at NYU and author of the book Going Solo, saying, “There’s so much cultural anxiety about isolation in our country that we often fail to appreciate the benefits of solitude”. How often do we find ourselves scrambling to make Friday night plans so we aren't "stuck alone at home"?

Perhaps most interesting to me, Neyfakh cites Greg Feist, associate professor of psychology at San Jose State University, who draws a connection between solitude and creativity. Fiest finds that allowing our minds to shift away from the people and activities around us helps us to engage in meta-cognition–a reflection or critical examination of our own thoughts.

While there is no denying I am a social person, first and foremost, I am a creative woman. I can still recall sitting at my mother's drawing table when I was eight, allowing my mind to drift from the filtered sunlight through the trees to the feelings I wanted to express in a poem; for no one else, just for me.

My desire to create and imagine has not diminished at age 25, but I have found that constantly being surrounded by people and distractions has inhibited my ability to process and contribute more meaningfully to society around me. Setting aside time for reading, writing, prayer and even just day dreaming is something I need for both personal and interpersonal growth.

Verily readers, do you ever feel like you need a little solitude? How do you carve alone time into your day?

Photo via flickr user antonkrieger

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Monica Gabriel

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