There is a stigma attached to doing anything alone.
For example, I relish my alone time up in the woods of Maine — away from any human interaction — but I’m always surprised by those who view it as sad, or even pitiful. Once in awhile someone (mostly other writers) will understand, but the majority of people frown and ask in a concerned voice, But aren’t you lonely up there?
As anyone who lives alone or works alone or simply loves alone-time will tell you, being alone is not more or less lonely than being with people.
Introverts are generally assumed to enjoy alone time, while extroverts are supposed to prefer interacting with people at all times… but it isn’t really true. I know plenty of introverts who are terrified of being completely alone, and I know confident extroverts who travel, dine, and attend events on their own all the time.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about what I love doing alone and what I never do alone… and why that is?
~ I’m fine going to a coffee shop or café alone, but I dread eating at a restaurant alone.
~ I almost always shop (for food, clothes, gifts) alone, but would never go to a festival or fair alone.
~ I love staying in a hotel alone (and getting room service in my sweats), but I wouldn’t stay at a small Inn or B&B alone.
~ I have no problem going to a conference alone, but loathe going to a party alone.
~ I love hanging out at the library alone, but I would never hang out at a museum alone.
~ I love flying alone, or taking any form of transportation alone, but I don’t like being on a trip alone.
~ I’m happy to go to a classical concert alone, but would never go to any other kind of concert alone.
~ I’m fine seeing a play alone, but have never gone to the movies alone.
~ I love taking a course or class alone, but I wouldn’t join a club alone.
Perhaps it’s all about the level of intimacy or closeness with which we “aloners” are comfortable… as if we’ve predetermined some imaginary point where our bubble of alone-ness might pop?
More than anything, I love hiking and walking and biking alone because:
1. I’m thinking-dreaming-imagining-mulling.
2. Being in nature is as close as I will ever get to a spiritual connection.
3. I love the freedom of going whenever and wherever I want to go.
Wanting to be alone is not a rejection of the people I love – in fact, I can only enjoy being alone knowing there are people I love in my life.
But I know I have to nurture myself in order to give myself to others. And that’s the real value of being alone.