Are you feeling a need for alone time? Do you like to be alone? Do you attribute it to an independent spirit, or is it something else entirely?
Ah, choosing independence and choosing solo time are two different things… but how are they related? Are the delights (and demands) of an independent spirit too often confused with the need to be alone?
Personally, I consider it very pleasant to be alone as long as I don’t feel absolutely isolated. I believe this is part of my nature and always has been. Even as a child, I savored my quiet — reading, writing, drawing, dreaming. And isn’t the “room of one’s own” vital to those of us who are nourished by a creative bubble?
Sharing Quiet… Together
My ex-husband was very comfortable with companionable silence. This was never a problem. Our challenge was communicating in useful, effective and more profound ways, a type of communication that is essential in marriage.
Realizing the nuances involved in quiet time, I am attentive to my younger son’s temperament and preferences. He seems at ease in silence as am I, which is convenient since we are currently sharing a very small space for a period of three months. At times, he’s in his room and I’m at my table. Or, we may be working alongside one another or in close proximity in two adjoining open spaces.
It’s all extremely pleasant — and exceptionally productive! (This last is helped along by the fact that my son fixes me lunch most days.)
On a pop culture side note, I was amused watching a recent episode of Flipping Out. The contrast of Jeff Lewis and Jenny Poulos who banter throughout the work day and Gage, with his new silent sidekick, Mathew, offers a little insight into my ideal work mode these days. And no, I wouldn’t be chatting it up with my colleague, though I might love that when the workday is done. I’d be busy in my bubble, and content in my quiet.
I find it interesting that many assume those who are independent enjoy being alone, and those who loathe being alone are not independent. It seems to me there is a link, but not necessarily a dependency, if you’ll forgive the use of the term. Moreover, we can need and express independence in some areas, yet have no such desire in others.
On the subject of independence, I found this article very interesting: 7 Things Independent People Do in Relationships That Make Them So Much Stronger.
The article notes:
… there are some people out there — men and women — who are naturally independent and who bring that quality to bear on their love lives. They could teach the rest of us a few lessons about how to maintain one’s individuality even in the closest relationships.
Now that’s an interesting concept. I consider myself extremely independent in many areas of my life, yet maintaining my “individuality” during marriage — even with a traveling husband — was enormously difficult. I have certainly done better at keeping myself “whole” in my post-divorce relationships, though my quasi-conventional upbringing still rears its irritating head and I give too much “me time” away.
“I Need to Be Alone”
The same article points out:
Some people love having time to themselves — for many, in fact, it’s an absolute necessity… This desire for solitude doesn’t go away when they get into relationships…
However, is that a sign of independence, or something else? It’s certainly a reflection of comfort at keeping one’s own company, and that’s helpful if you travel on your own (for example), you live on your own, or your work — like mine — thrives with a daily dose of solitude.
They make sure they spend time with their partners, they don’t like to “check in,” and they don’t allow themselves to feel “bogged down” by what the other person is thinking or feeling.
Hmm. That last sounds like a recipe for disaster. Moreover, I don’t agree.
The Gift of Silence (When Needed)
Other than a number of meetings many of which have run for hours at a time and one after another, in the past two weeks I have given myself the gift of quiet. In other words, I have given myself permission not to speak if I don’t wish to outside of a professional context and, I will add, exchanging a few words with my son.
When I’m tired, stressed or in pain, I’m hypersensitive to noise. It has felt enveloping, cradling, healing even — to some part of me that I hadn’t realized was in need of comfort.
Is this hard for others around me unless they are like my son?
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not living without the sound of voices! There are evenings around the dinner table with lively discussion, and getting to know my son as an adult is an extraordinary pleasure.
Your Silent Style? Your Independent Spirit?
So… How does “opposites attract” work for longer than a short period of time? Do we eventually work out compromises or logistical accommodations — a “quiet” room or “quiet” period — that both can agree on?
Did Greta Garbo have the right idea? That infamous line about wanting to be alone? Why is it some of us feel we can’t breathe without space and a sense of freedom inside our own heads? How do we blend this need with a more sociable, gregarious side?
As my son and I continue to share our space with virtually no conflict of compatibility, I am curious about others who adore their productive and pleasurable stillness, and manage to make it work.
- Can a solitary personality pair with one that is more sociable, more gregarious, or in some capacity — needier?
- If your nature is to be independent — how do you manage to live with someone whose tendencies run the other way?
- Have you learned to tolerate periods of being alone, and possibly to enjoy them?
- Have you learned to hold “silence” as something of value — a sort of meditative quiet in our noisy world?
- Are you good at being alone or is it troublesome for you? If you don’t like to be alone, does that make you needy?
- Are you in a relationship or married to someone who doesn’t like to be alone but you do? Is the situation reversed?
You May Also Enjoy