Embracing Solitude

“It was when I stopped searching for home within others and lifted the foundations of home within myself I found there were no roots more intimate than those between a mind and body that have decided to be whole.” – Rupi Kaur

There are few things in life that I enjoy more than solitude; since adolescence, I have always been a dedicated homebody, eagerly awaiting the end of a long school or work day so that I could rush home and recover from the world. Even now, at the age of 23, I value and prioritize my alone time – especially after a period of excessive socializing. 

One thing I’ve realized from my interactions with people in my generation is that we heavily underestimate the significance of spending time with ourselves and learning to be comfortable in our own presence. In the midst of balancing numerous responsibilities and an active social life, many of us have lost touch with who we are beneath our public facades. Consequently, we go through our lives neglecting our thoughts and feelings, evading our fears and vulnerabilities, and ignoring our deeper intuition.

These reasons are exactly why I believe that solitude and silence are essential. They are also why I unapologetically embrace seclusion and why I am not afraid to occasionally cancel my plans when I do not feel like myself. There are so many reasons why I love solitude, but here are some of the ones that are most important to me: 

Solitude gives me the space to clear my mind. After a few days or weeks of being overwhelmingly busy, or following prolonged socializing, I usually start to feel mentally and emotionally depleted. By actively setting aside some alone time, I am able to give myself the attention that I need, and the thoughts and feelings that I may have brushed aside while navigating through my busy life are free to emerge. This way, I can actually deal with them and give them the space to be; the beauty of this simple act is that it encourages me to reflect on my recent actions, identify any problem areas, and let go of any heaviness or feelings of anger, confusion, sadness, or uncertainty that I may have been carrying. 

Solitude gives me the freedom to daydream, anticipate, and plan. I wholeheartedly believe that seclusion brings opportunity. When I am alone, I have the habit of envisioning how I want my life to look, and I turn these dreams into a written list of my ambitions and priorities. Sometimes, I take it a step further and search for corresponding images to print out and put on my vision board. Having a certain amount of time to myself without any external interruptions is my opportunity to actively build my life – I cherish these moments because they restore my sense of purpose and inspire me to work harder towards my future (while still enjoying the present moment, of course).  

Solitude allows me to reconcile with my inner self. As I previously mentioned, I am a homebody with the tendency to feel drained when I am considerably overworked or socialize more than I usually do. Whenever I go through days or weeks of continuous activity, solitude is that sweet, nurturing space that comforts me and reminds me who I am, what truly matters to me, and what my soul’s purpose is; it sheds away the distractions and encourages me to re-align with my core values and re-focus on my long-term aspirations. Solitude allows me to assess, and reassess, my life. 

Solitude reminds me that I am enough. Through my conversations, I often find that people think there is something “wrong” or “sad” about doing things alone. Admittedly, I am someone who prefers to go to restaurants and public spaces with other people rather than alone (a large part of it is due to anxiety), but I have also learned to appreciate solitude in public settings as well. As I grow older, I am embracing myself more and this acceptance comes with the recognition that I am whole on my own and that I do not need to be surrounded by other people to enjoy what this world has to offer. Being comfortable with my aloneness gives me the luxury of selectively choosing who I share my energy with as I know that their presence can only add and not take away from mine.

Solitude allows me to be selfish. Now, I know that this point may sound negative, but when I use the term selfish, I am referring to having complete control over my own decisions for a little while. Solitude gives me the freedom to choose my activities – from how I will spend my time to what I am going to eat – and it does so without making me feel guilty about whether or not I am fulfilling someone else’s present needs. 

In many ways, solitude is terrifying for our generation. We live in a century with an abundance of external stimuli and readily available technology that gives us access to platforms like Instagram, Netflix, and YouTube. As a result, it is much easier for us to “tune out” of our thoughts and feelings and “tune in” to the outer world instead. We are becoming increasingly busier as students with less time for ourselves, and while there is nothing wrong with being productive, there is something worrisome about losing touch with what is going on inside. 

Ultimately, this life is short and our individual time on earth is unknown. It is our own responsibility to make this life as beautiful and fulfilling as we possibly can and I genuinely believe that embracing and becoming comfortable with solitude is a step towards an incredible life. So, I challenge you to take the plunge into the uncomfortable world of solitude and see what you may find. You might discover aspects of yourself that you didn't know existed, or you may become more inspired to say yes to yourself more often and no to anything that does not align with your purpose. 

Until next time!