Being alone often means being lonely. As a millennial, there are very few times that I have been truly disconnected from people. I am always able to text friends and FaceTime family. We often pity those who are alone and rarely seek out being alone ourselves. Solitude often has a negative connotation, but it is actually defined neutrally as: the state or situation of being alone.
At some point, solitude became sad or tragic. Many people only want to be alone when they are sad or angry. Oftentimes we mask being alone with being busy, especially in public. We listen to music, text, read, or do homework to keep our minds busy rather than lonely. But it is time to reclaim the word solitude and allow it to be positive because being alone can be a beautiful thing.
In solitude, we can learn so much about ourselves as individuals and about those around us. Being alone with your thoughts and actions allows you to learn and grow without the restrictions of others. When alone with your thoughts, you don’t filter them to fit with others. Allowing time to truly ponder when you’re alone can help you create and explore your own personal opinions, which will result in more thoughtful conversations.
Solitude in public can be uncomfortable at first. We often feel insecure about being alone while surrounded by so many people, so we create excuses to ward off loneliness. If we are at a coffee shop alone, it’s because we need to be productive. If we are going on a walk alone, it’s because we need the exercise. Instead, we should start letting the purpose of these excursions be to simply exist in this world. We should make it a mission to enjoy the world and the people in it. We should spend time people watching and listening to the birds.
It’s time to make solitude a positive practice. Instead of hiding from it, we should seek out moments of true solitude. We should reclaim solitude and let it liberate us.