Finding solitude is like having an energy drink. I know, it might seem like a strange comparison, but I’ll explain.
Fuel for the brain
Years ago I had a brief period in which I drank a lot of energy drinks. I had a job were everything was always changing and I had to write pieces under time pressure. Needless to say that by the end of the day my creative flow was often dried up. What if you then have to write? One day I decided to try an energy drink. Much to my surprise this actually worked. The ideas were flowing again and I could finish whatever I was writing. As a result I took one of those drinks whenever writing became difficult.
Nowadays, I crave my moments of solitude as much as those energy drinks back then. Not only in order to be able to think again, but also to allow myself to deal with others once more. Sometimes ten minutes will suffice whereas other times I need a whole weekend by myself. This can be difficult for others to understand. I’ll get questions like, ‘don’t you like to meet again?’ ‘Why do you leave so early?’ ‘Don’t you want to go outside for a bit?’
Of course I like to meet people, to spend time together and to go outside, but unfortunately this isn’t always an option. At times I just need to be by myself. As being around others simply requires more energy. Even when they stay silent, my battery will drain faster when others are around.
As a part of my brain will focus on every sound or movement that is being made. Therefore my attention will be divided between whatever I’m doing and all the changes in my surrounding. People often aren’t just present, they will eventually also speak to you. Which also means you have an extra worry of whether or not you’ll be able to express yourself correctly and hoping that you won’t do or say anything strange.
Those moments of solitude have become vital for me. That moment when I can close a door behind me to be alone, feels like a burden has been lifted. In that moment I don’t have to make an effort. I don’t have to concentrate, to work to exclude distractions or to try being pleasant company. I can simply let go.
During visits, those ten minutes of solitude are like having an energy drink. I can allow my brain a moment of peace after which I can concentrate and interact once more. When I seek solitude at home, I simply go to bed with my earplugs and sleeping mask and tune out the world for a bit.
Now luckily, I live by myself. The moment I get home I no longer have to worry about being pleasant to be around. I can do whatever feels good. Which is why I admire those who share their home with house mates, a partner or even a family. I can’t even begin to imagine the delicate balancing act that that requires.
Drinking those energy drinks helped me to reawaken my brain. After a couple of weeks I started to familiarize myself with what I was actually drinking. Apparently a whole lot of caffeine and sugars. It turned out they weren’t healthy at all. Also I didn’t like the idea that I had to rely on an external stimulant to do my job. So I went off them completely.
Luckily solitude is a lot more healthier than drinking energy drinks. The only downside is that it takes more effort to reconnect with the world again. Especially after a day of solitude. At those times, the temptation to stay in my PJ’s and to remain in my own world can be very alluring.
Recently I listened to a podcast (can’t remember which one) where someone mentioned that you sometime shouldn’t give yourself a chance to say ‘no’. Instead of asking yourself whether or not you should do something, to just do it. Because the moment you start to deliberate, it’s very likely that you’ll end up saying no. That comment stayed with me.
Last week was one of those weeks in which I needed a lot of solitude and struggled with reconnecting. Remembering this comment helped me to make that phone call, to send that text and even to go outside for a walk. In all honesty I will admit that thanks to this comment I now also have a large cake in the fridge. Apparently I need to fine-tune to use of it. But well, the cake will be an extra motivation to go one step further.
Do you also feel that sense of relief when you can be on your own? Do you struggle with finding these moments of solitude? Does the world makes you reconnect or do you have to push yourself?