In today’s age of constant social media consumption and information overload where we are always on the go and always connected, embracing solitude has become a lost art.
Paradoxically, despite being constantly connected, the percentage of people suffering from loneliness has risen sharply. Statistics show that since the 1980s, the percentage of American adults who say they’re lonely has doubled from 20 percent to 40 percent.
This is because solitude and loneliness are two very different things.
You could be alone but if you enjoy your solitude, you would not feel lonely.
On the contrary, you could be surrounded by a multitude of friends online and offline but if you have not learned the art of embracing solitude, you would still feel lonely.
In fact, learning to embrace solitude and being on our own is at the heart of building stronger and healthier relationships because then we are not getting into a relationship to feel less anxious and we do not use the other person as a cure for our loneliness.
This has been beautifully explained by Sherry Turkle in her book Alone Together.
She explains, “How do you get from connection to isolation? You end up isolated if you don’t cultivate the capacity for solitude, the ability to be separate, to gather yourself. Solitude is where you find yourself so that you can reach out to other people and form real attachments. When we don’t have the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people in order to feel less anxious or in order to feel alive. When this happens, we’re not able to appreciate who they are. It’s as though we’re using them as spare parts to support our fragile sense of self.”
– Sherry Turkle
Being alone and embracing solitude has a multitude of benefits and helps to build a stronger and better personality
1) Solitude helps in increasing self-awareness
Spending time alone helps you to get in touch with your own voice and gives you an opportunity to know yourself on a deeper and intimate level.
It offers you space for introspection to know who you are and what you want.
As you get comfortable in your skin and crystal clear on your values and priorities, you learn to take your own decisions based on your inner compass instead of getting influenced by any outside forces.
2) Solitude fosters creativity
There is a reason artist and creative people seek solitude. Being alone and wading off distractions helps them to get into a flow state which is the germinating ground for ideas to be born.
“The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone—that is the secret of the invention. Be alone—that is when ideas are born”
– Nikola Tesla
3) Exploration and risk-taking abilities
When we are alone and comfortable in our own skin, we do not do things for outside validation or approval. Our focus is on learning and growing instead and our risk-taking abilities are very high.
We constantly take up activities that help us explore and grow and stretch our comfort zone.