I think it’s safe to say that we live in an extroverted-leaning society.
And though we’ve made strides in recent years, the notion of desiring to be alone can still occasionally be misconstrued as ‘weird’, or even concerning.
The truth is though, solitude can often represent strength and independence.
The more we evolve as a society, the more we realize that those who seek alone time are far more diverse a crowd than the oddball loner.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the personality traits that coincide with a need for alone time.
Let’s get to it!
This is an obvious one.
Contrary to popular belief, introverts aren’t merely painfully shy, perpetual wallflowers.
People are more ambiguous than conventional wisdom might suggest.
In spurts, certain introverts can be as sociable as anyone.
When they’re in the mood, they can even be the life of the party.
But when their battery runs low, they might start to find social interactions draining, needing solitude to recharge. Not unlike your smartphone.
My friend Ron comes across as a social butterfly to new people.
He always seems to have a friendly disposition, cracking jokes or animatedly telling stories.
But once people get to really know him, they’ll realize that he is a bit of a closet introvert.
After a party or having to be around people for extended periods of time, he’ll often disappear for days, without warning.
Initially, I was quite perplexed by his behavior, questioning if I had done something to offend him.
But then I began to realize that he just needed alone time to rest and rejuvenate so he could be good ole’ Ron again.
2) High sensitivity (HSPs)
Similar to introverts, highly sensitive people (HSPs) also need regular breaks from the crowd.
This is not because they have an aversion to people. Rather, they tend to get overwhelmed by intense, hectic, or foreign environments.
They might get flustered walking through Piccadilly Circus on a Saturday afternoon, for instance.
All the chaotic, metropolitan stimuli can assault their senses.
Thus, they sometimes require lengthy bouts of solitude to process their feelings and experiences.
My Dad has always been a bit of an HSP.
I was with him last month strolling through midtown, Manhattan, one of New York City’s busiest districts.
He has difficulty with large crowds or loud, inanimate noises. His anxiety can spiral.
But regardless, that afternoon, we found ourselves walking amidst hordes of frenzied tourists, trying to get to the subway.
I felt him tap my shoulder, perspiring and visibly bothered.
He said “We need to get out of here. I’m going to pass out”
So we ducked into a coffee shop, where we stayed for the next hour so he could collect himself before gathering the poise to head home.
It’s something of a romantic stereotype these days: the lone creative needing solitude to maximize their artistic potential.
Orwell wrote 1984 on a secluded Scottish island; Ian Fleming penned the James Bond novels in a desolate lodge in Jamaica; Paul Gauguin painted some of his finest works in remote parts of Tahiti and Pont Aven. The list is endless.
Solitude provides creatives with the opportunity to focus on work, seeking inspiration and introspection along the way.
Through these intense periods of self-reflection, creatives are able to produce inspired work that wouldn’t often happen in, say, a bustling city with its infinite distractions.
It makes sense. As a writer, my work is sometimes derailed by things like social media, Netflix, or texting with friends.
I’ve been working on a novel. Earlier this year, influenced by my literary heroes, I rented a cabin about two hours upstate.
There was barely any cell reception there.
Though this sounds like the setting for a Stephen King-adapted movie, it was quite picturesque and quaint–in other words, an ideal setting to get some writing done.
It was a place where my creative process could flow freely, unfiltered by the blaring noise of the city.
Also with nothing else to do but watch the paint dry, it forced me to be productive, yielding results that I simply wouldn’t get in more mundane circumstances.
It doesn’t have to just be creatives, anybody in any field who holds their work and output to a high standard tends to value alone time.
You can be a physics professor, a businesswoman, an HR manager, or a tech mogul, solitude will provide you with the time to focus, minus the loud diversions of civilization.
Also, it can put things into perspective: the stress and pressure one might put on oneself will not be as intense after deep periods of seclusion.
Think about it: when you have a lot on your mind, like clutter in your workspace, it can cloud your focus, causing unnecessary stress.
Conversely, when your space is clean and tidy, you’re able to concentrate and organize thoughts more successfully.
The actor Tom Hardy was quoted as saying “Some people don’t understand that sitting in your own house alone in peace, eating snacks and minding your business is priceless.”
It can take a while to come to this realization.
After all, society has normalized things like going out with friends and socializing as major pastimes.
But once you make the shift, you’ll realize how enriching being alone can be.
You save money, you won’t get hungover, and you don’t have to deal with the petty stresses of the world.
When you’re independent, you are self-sufficient, not reliant on others for a good time.
6) Spiritual or contemplative
Let’s end with another pretty straightforward subset: people who are spiritual or into contemplative practices such as meditation or rigorous prayer.
Have you ever gone to a monastery where they were cranking out EDM or K-pop tunes?
Chances are, you haven’t; this is because people who are spiritual tend to value silence.
In this world, we are generally conditioned to crave loud noise, so much so that many of us might even feel uncomfortable dealing with extended periods of quiet.
So, I have to hand it to the spiritual and devoted–they can see the inherent beauty in stillness.
The latter allows them to deepen their connections with both themselves and their higher power, whoever that may be.
So if you feel the need for alone time, don’t worry. You are far from being alone.
Your ability to navigate life without the need for petty distractions speaks to your uniqueness and independence.
As long as you maintain balance and keep things healthy, keep doing you.
Continue to claim your autonomy and filter out the noise.
As the whimsical storyteller, Dr. Seuss once astutely proclaimed: “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”