I live in a city and on any given day, between traffic and poorly timed traffic lights, it’s a hassle getting from one side of the city to the other. However, on early Saturday mornings, the roads are practically clear. Last Saturday, I dropped my daughter off at practice, picked up the DVD/library books that I needed to return, and stopped for muffins on the way home. I sang along to REM, The Smiths, and The Police while running my errands alone. This alone time is when I get back in touch with the real me, not the mother-me, wife-me, worker-me. I can think, dream, sing, pray, whatever I want.
Over the weekend I found myself nodding my head as I read a post over at Shrinking Violet Productions. You see, I'm a self-confessed introvert. I used to think of this as a weakness or something I needed to overcome. However, now I embrace it because it's who I am. Like the article said, it doesn't mean that I'm shy (any more - I was as a child) or self-absorbed or anti-social, though I've been judged that way by others. It's simply that I'm most comfortable spending time alone or with those people who genuinely like/love me for me. That doesn't mean that I'm naturally drawn to other introverts. I have friends who are both ins and exs.
I was particularly drawn to first sentence under #9 on the list of myths concerning introverts. Introversion is simply the need to recharge in solitude, we simply get our energy in solitude. Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes! This is exactly why I get up early every morning to be alone before everyone else wakes up; why I never minded driving 45 minutes every Sunday to meet with friends; why I used to walk to a quiet spot by the Charles River to write when I was younger; why every night in the summer after dinner, I go outside alone and sit on the front steps with a beer or a glass of wine. I crave solitude.
I used to wonder why my mom woke up at 4:30am every weekday morning when she didn’t have to be at work (which was 5 minutes away) until 7:00am. She would get up, make a pot of coffee, and sit at the kitchen table reading or doing crossword puzzles alone until the rest of the house woke up. I’d call her crazy for getting up so early when she could sleep for another hour and a half. “I just like to,” she’d tell me while I shook my head in disbelief that anyone would choose to wake up while it’s dark out rather than sleep. My mom’s an introvert too and already knew that she needed that alone time.
I don’t often get a lot of alone time, but when I do I enjoy every moment. Solitude has always felt comfortable like a broken in pair of sneakers. That's part of why I love writing so much, because it is such a solitary endeavor. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy companionship. I do. But that alone time is what energizes me.
What about you? How do you handle solitude? Do you love it or like it in small doses?