Often when we here the word 'alone' we think of someone who is lonely and has no family or friends to spend time with. When I looked for images of alone I only found a couple where the person was not looking sad because people tend to think of 'alone' as sad and lonely. However, if spending time on your own is from choice it can be enjoyable and is actually good for you.
Two types of spending time on your own An individual might choose to spend time away from anyone else. She/he might stay home when everyone else is out or go for a walk on an isolated beach. Or he/she might have other people in the vicinity but be out enjoying an activity without a companion.
I am a person who enjoys some time alone and these are some of the reasons I enjoy spending time on my own.
1. Freedom to choose an activity When I am alone I can choose what to do without considering another person's interests. I don't have to feel guilty or selfish about choosing something I enjoy which another person may not.
2. Don't have to consider another person's schedule I can choose to go somewhere on the spur of the moment. I can stay as long as I like and if I decide to go home (or elsewhere) soon after arriving I don't have to consult someone else. Perhaps I have changed my mind or the activity isn't as much fun as I expected. Doesn't matter, I can leave.
3. I can concentrate more on what I'm doing If I am at home I can concentrate on whatever I am doing without being distracted. I always say, 'I can't think and talk at the same time!' because I find if I am talking to a visitor while I am cooking or gardening I tend to forget either what I am saying or what I am doing. This is particularly the case if the activity or the conversation is a bit complicated.
Research done by two separate American universities has found students get better test results if they study alone because they concentrate better.
4. More opportunity to have random conversations If I am travelling on the train alone or I am in a shop I sometimes get into a random conversation with someone I don't know. We might exchange a couple of sentences or speak for a few minutes. If I already have a companion this is less likely to happen.
I enjoy these unexpected exchanges and they often give me something quite different to think about.
5. I can take my time over taking photos I love taking photos of all sorts of things. If I have company I tend not to notice quirky things in my environment because I will be concentrating on the conversation. Sometimes things I miss seeing because I am conversing will not be there if I come back at a later date.
Image by Marie Vonow. This street art has now been painted over so I am glad I took a photo when I did
I may take my time getting shots from different angles or trying to avoid shadow or sun glare which is spoiling the photo. If I have company I feel guilty about making someone else wait for me so I only take a quick photo.
6. Time to observe and think I enjoy time to think and ponder life. In the morning I like to sit on the back verandah alone and watch the birds flying around. There's a butterfly, now it's flown over the fence. This morning there are hardly any clouds. That cactus over the fence has almost finished flowering. And so my observations continue.
I might catch part of a conversation on the train and it makes me think. Things I see from the window of the train also stimulate my imagination.
Often I end up grabbing notebook and pen to jot a few thoughts down. Recently I have started using the Memo function on my mobile. If I have company I would consider it rude to start making notes so I wouldn't do it.
A study by Harvard University found if a person experiences something when they are on their own they will have a stronger memory of it.
7. Time to work through any problems Although there is a place for discussing problems with others, in the end I need to make a decision for myself. I need solitude to do this.
I may go for a walk alone and mull things over. Perhaps I will do my thinking as I travel on the train. Or I may choose to have a mug of cappuccino (yes, a mug, I need time to make a decision) in a cafe in another suburb where I don't know anyone. If I really need to think I don't want company.
8. Get to know myself better You might think I should know myself by now, I've been around for decades. Truth is, I am a work in progress and I keep changing and adapting. I am not exactly the same person I was five years ago.
9. Relieves stress When I am alone I am not getting caught up in anyone else's dramas.
I have time to get things in my life into perspective and just breathe.
10. Makes me appreciate time with others When I have had time alone I enjoy company again. If I always had people around me I would feel under pressure. Instead of valuing the company of others I would resent the intrusion on my personal space.
For me it's all about balance. I love the company of valued family and friends. When I'm out I enjoy exchanging ideas or a laugh with the person at the checkout, the woman waiting for a train. But I do need my time alone.