Alone again. I feel I’ve come full circle from January 2012 when I was newly single and aching for 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)