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For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
Niko
Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister
your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
Sherrie
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
D.R.
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
Megan
Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
C.M.
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
Sharon

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Solitude: What It Takes to Complete Work and Complete You

Alone again. I feel I’ve come full circle from January 2012 when I was newly single and aching for beach-bikini-girl-hair-sea-Favim.com-344995personal expression and independence. I had an aliveness that vibrated subcutaneously, poised to spill out from my smile.  I wanted to take classes, write, read, travel, nurture friendships, figure out Brenda, be seen as Brenda.

Sometimes being seen is the same thing as being saved. ~ Mary Rakow, The Memory Room

I had this wide-eyed energy that only novelty and freedom can bring.

I wanted to accomplish something on my own.

I had to have time to become myself.

I wanted all those things but I knew I needed to be still and listen too.

I let solitude unkink all the kinks in my spirit. I let it calm my nerves and reveal my essence. It provided the blank canvas for developing, toiling and finishing.

Then, as now, alone was delicious.

Solitude = a chance to make something intangible, tangible

I have a deep desire to help people wake up and see their potential. I have a wish to do work that inspires. I sometimes get lost in possibilities and desiring and forget to take action. I spin my wheels and have nothing tangible to show for my intangible dreams. But the dreams endure and I find ways to break them down into action steps, education and projects. This work, no matter how satisfying and nourishing, requires incredible mental commitment. I need solitude to make it happen.

It’s true I can complete things in the presence of others — taking a class or cooking a meal for example, but when it comes time to put a Powerpoint presentation together or a post for space2live I need uninterrupted focus time. It’s difficult for me to do my best work if someone else is around. The potential for interruption keeps me from getting into the flow state.

Inspiration comes to us slowly and quietly… prime it with a little solitude.

                                                                             — Brenda Ueland

girl coloringIntroverts are intense concentrators. Pulling us away from our current focus can be like waking us from a deep sleep. It takes a while for us to join your present moment and it will take us even longer to return to the place we were before the distraction. When my children are home on school breaks I get little done even if they entertain themselves in other parts of the house. On those days, I purposely choose work that is forgiving of interruptions like house cleaning or website tinkering.

Becoming whole in solitude

Alone is a drug I have to have. It’s where I gain perspective, clarity and proper verbiage for my ideas. It’s where I sew together bits of ideals, possibilities and aha! shower moments with a thread of practicality. It’s where I complete things, including myself.

Shakespeare wrote, Sleep knits up the raveled sleeve of care (Macbeth), meaning sleep repairs all that has become confusing or tangled in our lives. To me, solitude offers the same balm.

In quiet, I fine-tooth comb all of my relationships. I search for relief where there is interpersonal conflict. I search for understanding where there are differences in temperament. I use my mind to find meaningful associations and fashion peaceful co-existence with others. It may seem strange to work on relationships alone but it is how many introverts prefer to learn and practice. We grow from the inside out.

Within solitude I manage my own well-being and like it. Without enough solitude, I take the easy way out and follow the crowd. I do what I should and what others do because I don’t have the time to question the norm or the energy to advocate for what is true to me. A calendar of tightly scheduled days with no open space for reflective, exploratory time is distressing to me. It may affect my sleep. It will affect my demeanor. I will become short and irritated. I will be distant and down.solitude_photography2

The truth is I can spend whole days by myself and wonder where the time went. I may re-enter civilization with eyes blinking from the brightness, but I’m full and ready to go. I have the energy to tackle projects, navigate challenges, savor experiences and nurture relationships.

And that’s when my other natural preference kicks in — a desire for deep meaningful connection with others… 🙂

How does solitude affect you? Have you ever had too much? What happens when you are deprived of alone time?

If you enjoyed this post you may also love:

The Introvert’s Love Affair with Solitude: Will It Always Be Taboo? (space2live)

Introverts Do It Passionately and Creatively: How It’s Possible to Love Solitude and Be Popular (space2live)

A Room of One’s Own (space2live)

Steven Tyler and an Introvert: Expanding Through Music, Stillness and the Inner Garden (space2live)

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29 Comments

  1. Ninad May 22, 2016 at 11:17 am - Reply

    Hey! I love your post. I love how you describe alone time as a drug that you need.
    To be honest, I am in a situation where alone time is really necessary. Being an introvert and doing sales is like having no legs and trying to climb a mountain. It’s possible but much difficult than doing it with legs.

    Also not sure if this happened because of too much alone time but I just have something to share. If you’ve heard of vipassana the 10 day silent retreat, I’d been there and being an introvert, it was the most pleasant experiences. I mean we don’t talk to each other for 10 days and not even among each other, total silence. After those 10 days, things were lot more clearer but also some things go t really messed up in my head. Like the fact that I even need people. Almost started feeling that I don’t need people and became kind of a maniac by avoiding as much interaction with people as possible. Could be because of the 10 day silence and alone time or could be something else (lots of things going wrong in the last few days). But either way, I personally wouldn’t mind too much alone time 😀

    • Brenda Knowles May 23, 2016 at 9:12 am - Reply

      That’s an interesting observation about your post-retreat response. I sometimes wonder if I’m more sensitive now because I have more alone time during the day. When others are around it’s more of a shock to my system. I have noticed lately a craving to be around people, but only gentle, kindred spirits who feed my mind and my heart. For me, it’s an ebb and flow. I need alone time and then I want connection. Perhaps you are going through stressful times and really need solitude to process it all. I can see where the retreat would bring you great peace and clarity. It’s hard to come back to reality and have all of your thoughts interrupted throughout the day. I hope you find some space to recharge and come back to yourself. I hope you find enough space to eventually make you want to connect with others. Thanks for sharing your story Ninad. I love the comparison of being an introverted sales person and climbing a mountain with no legs. Vivid imagery and excellent analogy.

  2. Mary Rakow January 28, 2016 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    Dear Brenda,
    A friend randomly sent me this posting as she recognized the quote in it, which is from The Memory Room my first novel. Thank you for using those words. I still feel they are very true as my protagonist Barbara felt. I have asecond novel that came out 6 weeks ago, also with Counterpoint Press and people have found it very helpful, too.
    It’s called THIS IS WHY I CAME and the reviews in Wash Post, Atlantic, Boston Globe, etc are great. But mosly I find readers are enjoying the affirmation that they can read iconic texts, to some, sacred texts, and find themselves in them, and make the stories their own. The chapters are very small, so we posted 10 of them onto a website (www.thisiswhybook.com).
    Good luck with this website and all the good you are bringing to others through it.
    My best wishes,
    Mary Rakow

    • Brenda Knowles January 29, 2016 at 6:40 am - Reply

      Dear Mary,
      I’m so honored to hear from you. I love that quote. It definitely resonates with me. I will look into your new novel and the website you mentioned. I am sure they will hit home as well. I look forward to exploring your work and sharing it with my readers. I am putting together a book of my own based on my personal story. I understand the work that goes into such creations. Thank you for your meaningful writing.

  3. Steph October 26, 2014 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    Oh how I wish I wasn’t this way. It’s very difficult being an introvert. I’ve just realized this a couple of years ago and never really understood it fully until recently. I always thought it had to do with crowds. Never did I realize the impact it had on my personal life as well. I remember going to my doctor in my early 20s and telling her I was irritable. I was diagnosed with depression and put on Prozac. Life went on after that. I ended up getting married after a 3yr courtship and within 2 years, my husband had found someone else. I knew deep down inside it was my fault. I was always irritable, never wanted to be with him, and just wanted to be alone. I never knew why I always wondered what was wrong with me. I loved him, but I felt like I hated him. I spent many years after the divorce alone and when I knew I was recovered, I wanted to date again. Then I started feeling the same way in my new relationships. I wanted to date, I liked my new boyfriends, but I pushed them away. I needed space. I still need space. When my child has friends over, I am constantly pacing waiting on them to go home. I struggle with all the loudness going on in my house. I HATE being this way. I want to love my new boyfriend, he is so good to me. But I push him away when I need space. It’s do hard. I don’t want him to leave me. But it’s going to happen eventually because he deserves someone who wants him all the time. I am do glad to have found this website because it helps me understand, but at the same time I feel like I am doomed for a life of misery. I love to be alone, but I also hate being left alone. I get lonely.

  4. Barbara September 19, 2014 at 10:43 am - Reply

    This helps me so much not to feel so crazy and like such a mean person. I am an ISTJ, 40 years old, mother of two teenage daughters, recently remarried, and step-mom to two more teenage daughters. I knew shortly after remarrying that I shouldn’t have done it. I moved into his small house and lost my ‘sanctuary’. I am NEVER home alone. I have become distant and constantly cranky and irritable. I am also working F/T and going to school P/T. I have a great deal on my plate and absolutely no time or space to decompress. I feel like I’m losing my mind and dream of living alone again. Anyhow, I haven’t really said much to anyone about this but I feel so close to exploding. Thank you for being out there, listening, and understanding.

    • Brenda Knowles September 20, 2014 at 8:59 am - Reply

      I empathize with your situation. I hope you have a loving partner who you could eventually open up to about your feelings of ‘losing your sanctuary’. If you could get some space to return to yourself I believe your whole family would benefit. I have been in your shoes. It may be helpful to have your partner read a post or two from space2live. It takes the pressure off of you to explain everything about your feelings/nature. A neutral contributor often helps. You are not alone. May you return to your sanctuary soon.

  5. […] Solitude: What It Takes to Complete Work and Complete You (space2live.net) I feel I’ve come full circle from January 2012 when I was newly single and aching for personal expression and independence. I had an aliveness that vibrated subcutaneously, poised to spill out from my smile.  I wanted to take classes, write, read, travel, nurture friendships, figure out Brenda, be seen as Brenda. + Alone is a drug I have to have. It’s where I gain perspective, clarity and proper verbiage for my ideas. It’s where I sew together bits of ideals, possibilities and aha! shower moments with a thread of practicality. It’s where I complete things, including myself. […]

  6. […] Solitude: What It Takes to Complete Work and Complete You […]

  7. […] post at the end of 2013 after comparing notes on life and blogging via Skype with the author of http://www.space2live.net, which focuses on introversion.  A few months ago I wrote Yes, I am a S.N.O.B.  I’m proud […]

  8. […] Alone again. I feel I’ve come full circle from January 2012 when I was newly single and aching for personal expression and independence. I had an aliveness that vibrated subcutaneously, poised to spill out from my smile.  […]

  9. […] ← Solitude: What It Takes to Complete Work and Complete You […]

  10. Tiffany January 30, 2014 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    I just recently realized I was a INFP. I grew up my whole life thinking I was a extrovert. It wasn’t until I took a personality test for work that I realized I was a introvert. Reflecting back even though I can be around people I often needed breaks by myself. I fed into the stereotype that introverts don’t like to be around others. That’s not true it’s just we need breaks. I am still trying to find that balance as a mom to a active 4yrs old, extroverted husband, and teacher. I crave that alone time. This site has been so eye opening and helpful for me.

  11. Angi January 28, 2014 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    I agree with a previous comment that there is never enough solitude. We are in our fourth year of homeschooling and the constant “24/7” of this lifestyle is starting to catch up to me-I can tell that I am cranky more often than not and my times with good energy are fewer and far between. I know that it is not healthy for me or my family to continue like this, so I think we will be making some changes next school year. Thank you for sharing. Your words always give validation to what I am feeling inside.

    • Brenda Knowles January 30, 2014 at 8:31 am - Reply

      Angi I am always amazed to hear from introverts who homeschool their children. The subject of homeschooling came up for my family when my oldest was struggling with kindergarten. I knew I could not handle everyone home all day expecting structured lesson plans and congeniality from me. I would lose it. I give you gigantic credit for doing it at all. I know extroverts who homeschool and want to pull their hair out some days. It’s a grand undertaking. Kudos to you for being aware of your needs and taking care of yourself. The space you need is real. You are modeling good personal awareness for your children. I bet you are conscientious and will find a satisfying alternative for your kids.

  12. susipet January 26, 2014 at 12:22 am - Reply

    Ah yes
    I recognise this as an INFP too. I loved the description of how absorbed you/I can be and how it takes time to almost get in focus the person who interrupts that ..
    I wrote a bit about it in my blog susipet.Wordpress.com
    Thanks enjoyed your blog!

    • Brenda Knowles January 26, 2014 at 5:45 pm - Reply

      I checked out your blog! Love all the imagery and your dreamy, enchanting INFP words.:)

      • susipet January 26, 2014 at 6:37 pm - Reply

        Thank you for passing by! Appreciate you comments…

  13. Dan January 25, 2014 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    As an INFP I love and very much relate to this. At 44 years old I’m finally embracing the gifts INFP can bring but I must have my solitude to do it

    • Brenda Knowles January 25, 2014 at 2:45 pm - Reply

      I’m almost 44 and I’m embracing the INFP gifts too! I think we are especially good at seeing possibilities and potential.:) Solitude definitely feeds our spirit and gives us energy to be our best. Woot woot for INFPs! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  14. Brett January 25, 2014 at 3:24 am - Reply

    I think solitude is absolutely essentiel for me as an INFP, to feel strong again, restored. I’m never bored when I’m alone with my thoughts… they go on and on and on and on…

    Sometimes I remember to conjugate the “woo-woo” with the “to-do,” too.

    Nice post.

    – Sent from my armchair by the window.

    • Brenda Knowles January 25, 2014 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      Being alone takes the edge off for me and, as you said, makes me feel strong and restored. I’m learning to fit action into my alone time. The to-do list needs to be touched on. It can’t all be meandering mind and thoughtful contemplation (darn it!). I love your sign off tag — sent from my armchair by the window.:)

  15. Erika January 24, 2014 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    Love this one and it is so true: “The potential for interruption keeps me from getting into the flow state.”
    Turning the phone off is not the solution as there is always the thought of the potential phone call and the ever present thought of someone occupying space in your spirit and mind, like a cloud hovering over you …. so leaving ‘someone alone’ – as in removing the physical presence – is often not enough for introverts to reach their inner place of complete peace. ….. Is there a solution? I don’t know …

    Love your posts, Brenda. Keep them coming.

    • Brenda Knowles January 25, 2014 at 2:34 pm - Reply

      I find if I am completely alone at home I can get into the zone or flow mode. I will still get calls (which I often let go to voicemail) and my mind will drift to the people in my life, but at least I have the opportunity to go deep into something even if it’s ruminating over a relationship issue. I’m also working on incorporating meditation into my routine (again). It helps me feel at peace even when others are hovering over me.;) Thanks for commenting Erika. Appreciate your input.

    • November January 27, 2014 at 7:21 pm - Reply

      “…the ever present thought of someone occupying space in your spirit and mind, like a cloud hovering over you …. so leaving ‘someone alone’ – as in removing the physical presence – is often not enough for introverts to reach their inner place of complete peace…”

      This is exactly me. Just knowing that another person (my spouse) was going to enter our house…compiled with all my other issues, was too much for me to bear. Bits and pieces of alone time were not enough. I separated from my spouse because of this. At the same time learning I’m an introvert and reading this blog and learning all these new things about myself…..Solitude is my only comfort…unfortunately.

  16. LB January 24, 2014 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    I also love my solitude 🙂 For me, there’s no such thing as too much. My schedule has been crazy busy lately, with a lot of running around from place to place. I try to use those few minutes in the car alone to grab some quiet and some solitude, but it’s hard when you’re fighting traffic. I need to purposely TAKE that alone time whenever I can… shut the door, ignore the phone, just sit and be. But then I feel guilty because I’m trying to get my business up and running and I owe my clients my time. But I also have to recognize that, like children, if I don’t take care of myself, I’m no good to them either!

    Great post… thanks!

    • Brenda Knowles January 24, 2014 at 5:24 pm - Reply

      I love driving all by myself! Great thinking time.:) You are right, taking time for yourself will make you better at serving your clients. Alone time encourages inspiration and patience. Thanks for sharing LB.

  17. ilona fried January 24, 2014 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    Great post! My favorite line: “I had this wide eyed energy that only novelty and freedom can bring.”

    • Brenda Knowles January 24, 2014 at 5:20 pm - Reply

      Yeah I love that kind of electric energy – so alert and alive.:)

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