Aren’t we all loners?

‘ Our mind is a beautiful thing, but we should learn to be it’s master, not it’s slave. It is not who we are, it is our most precious instrument.’

I was reading an article about people who like to be alone and I got inspired by it.  I guess I can place myself in that category, although I don’t really like to put people in boxes. Reading this article where they are talking about certain personality traits gives me the impression that they are assuming it is something something you just are. It made me look back and reflect on what made me appreciate my alone time as much as I do. What made me such a loner?

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Wicklow Mountains, Ireland – Photo: Elien Polders

It has only been a couple of years since I started needing my alone time, well actually since I discovered I needed it.  I was tired and agitated pretty often and most of the time I was stuck in my head. I was living together with my ex for nine years and we loved to have people around. Before that I was always among people, I did’t liked it to be alone and didn’t want to miss anything. When living with my ex I did enjoy my alone time, but I never really created it. Every now and then I did yoga in my room, thinking it was  the yoga which gave me air to breathe. Don’t get me wrong, yoga does a lot of good but I’ve come to realize the being alone part made a big difference. Taking my time doing yoga made me more aware of my feelings and the things going on in my body. But a lot of the time, I did it when I had already crossed my limits. I was always reading a lot of books, also when there were people around when I didn’t felt like communicating. Reading  took me into another world, I could disappear in the story. I remember that I’ve felt like a grumpy old woman a lot of times. I am sure our friends did not see me like that but I did and I hated that feeling but sometimes I just couldn’t.

For more than ten years of my life, I had migraines every week. The migraines itself and the fear of it controlled my life but it also forced me to take it easy. If I didn’t I would end up in bed for one or two days with a terrible headache which most of the time happened anyway because taking it easy was not something I was good at. I went to the doctor a lot of times to find a way to get rid of the migraines. I ended up in a mindfulness training, it was individual and only 5 times. Just when I had started the training, 5 years ago, I found out that the birth-control pills were causing the migraines ( I guess the hormones raised my stress level big time). So no migraines anymore! I was the happiest person alive! I finished the mindfulness training. I found peace in my head and I was able to live in the moment. It was also around that time where I choose to be coached. For years I had been reflecting on my life during my study and work, which is ofcourse important to do as a social worker. If you want to understand people, you must first understand yourself. But still there was some cleaning up to do so it was pretty heavy. I learned to control a lot of my thinking, came to look at myself in a more positive way and so I found more peace.

When I look back trying to connect the dots, I became aware of needing more quiet time when I became more mindful and in balance. I had come to appreciate myself more and became comfortable in my own skin. I was more aware of my body and my feelings and became able to accept them a lot more.  I worked hard to get to this point but I never realized it also needed a different approach. It has been in the last year, since I’ve been living alone, where I’ve come to notice that I feel much better when I get enough alone time. I realize now how much energy it takes from me to be around people. I also thought it was because of my job as a social worker but even now while I am traveling, I really need my alone time.

I’ve become more selective about the people I want in my life. I don’t want to hang around with just anybody, maybe also because I don’t need people that much anymore.  I want friendships and contact with people to be real and pure, it has to feel good to have you near me. That way is does not take that much energy.

I’ve learned to notice when I need my alone time. Sometimes I wait too long, which makes it take days to get my strength back. But when I keep it in balance, a couple of hours can be enough. If I don’t take enough time, I enjoy the company of people less and I’ll have trouble expressing myself. The amount of alone time impacts the amount of time I can handle to be around people. Beside this repeating process where I have to be aware of my boundaries to keep myself in balance, I also just love to be alone. Most of the times I feel very comfortable and feel strong when I am alone. But there are also times where I feel alone, but knowing that feelings are temporary makes me never feel lonely.

Because I  love the people in my life, who are not just people thanks to my selective preference in friends, so I love spending time with them. This makes it a bit difficult maintaining the balance.

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Rinjani, Lombok – Photo: Elien Polders

I don’t agree on the content of the article I was referring to when I started this story. I don’t believe there is this category of people who need their alone time, I think every human being needs it to find or keep their balance in life. A lot of people are maybe not ready for it or haven’t realized it yet. But a lot of the people I’ve met and spoke with, seem to have the desire to be able to enjoy their alone time.

‘ The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. Those who walk alone are likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before.’  – ?-

I think it is good for everyone to take some alone time every now and then. We need to take a step back and just experience our feelings and thoughts. We live in a world where there is never enough time, we are always running. There are too much distractions like smart phones and social media which trick us to live in our head and get distracted from our bodies. There is no space for our feelings and everybody must be happy. But we are humans, we can’t be happy all the time! Our feelings need attention and they need to be acknowledged, it is who we are. With neglecting our feelings we are neglecting ourselves. We need to experience our feelings instead of pushing them away.

I am writing about this because it took me a while before noticing I needed this. I have met a lot of people who were also not aware of this. So I would like to make you think about this, create some awareness by sharing my story as an example.

 

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Mount Batur, Bali – Photo: Aron

One thought on “Aren’t we all loners?

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  1. It is so so so true! I think we all should spend as much time as we can with ourselves just for self discovery and finding out what is our liking. This way it is easier to navigate the earth and letting the right people in for whatever reason. It could be the right friend for that time only or for forever. But without self awareness it is not possible.

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