The Importance Of Being Alone
In today’s world, we are constantly connected, via Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, + even in person [imagine that?!] — especially for those of you who live in a big city. Sometimes, I feel that this constant connectedness causes people to lose their individuality + uniqueness, because they feel they have to be in the common wave of everyone, all the time, instead of being alone.
Take yourself back to 30 years ago [OMG!], when cell phones were not a thing-except for the big black emergency phones-email was at its beginning stages, + Facebook was a speck of Mark Zuckerberg’s imagination (he would have been only 4 years old in 1988). People went about their days, connected to themselves, co-workers during the day, + some family + close friends for the times in between. There was no checking in constantly to see how a mere stranger is doing, or to wonder what life would be like if you were just like that person, or constant FOMO from others.
We need to be comfortable being alone in our own skin, doing the things we love, not the things that constant interconnectedness makes us believe we love. We need ALONE time, to get lost in our own minds + ways of life.
No matter what type of person you are, there truly is no reason for you to be with someone all the time, 24/7. You need. mental clarity away from others’ thoughts. Not to mention, getting comfortable in your own skin is crucial to success.
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INTROVERSION VS EXTROVERSION
No matter if you are an extrovert or introvert, being comfortable in your own skin is the key to success + happiness. I myself am an extremely extroverted person, but I LOVE being alone to let my own mind slow down + allow my thoughts to wander. If I hadn’t had alone time in the past, I would never have achieved my personalized goals [that were created when I was completely alone]. Let me bring you to the definitions of extrovert vs introvert.
Take a look at the extrovert definition — there is nowhere in there where it says “must be with people at all times.” The same goes for introvert — nowhere does it say “must be alone at all times.” No matter what you define yourself as, the key is finding a balance that suits yourself-but is also healthy for your brain as well. If you are a very outgoing person, you naturally gravitate towards wanting to be around people at all times [I mean how else can you share your expressive-ness?!]. On the other hand if you are an introvert, you take comfort in watching the world go by but not necessarily being outgoing while doing so. Each type of person is brilliant in their own way + that is what makes us all unique. We need a balance of both people in the world!
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BEING COMFORTABLE IN YOUR OWN SKIN
Although most people may say they feel comfortable in their own skin, I am talking about being truly comfortable in your own skin… where you can be alone in public [gasp!]. Can you go to a restaurant + eat a solo meal, can you go to the mall alone, can you study alone, can you eat at the dining hall alone, can you travel alone? I have done all of these things, + I absolutely LOVE it. People ask me all of the time, aren’t you lonely, don’t you worry about what other people think, don’t you get nervous?
The answers are all no, but this did not happen overnight. This happened mid-way through college when I realized I was so busy between working, studying + being a human, that I needed to do things alone or they wouldn’t get done. I couldn’t wait for someone to go eat with, to run errands with, or to travel with-I needed them done at this moment [or wanted them done-travel], so I forced myself to be okay with being alone. I just went for it, + I absolutely loved it. The power of being alone lets your mind rest, you observe everything around you 10x more than with others, + it forces you to talk to complete strangers. I can’t even tell you the amount of people I’ve met solo traveling, that I never would have talked to had I been with someone else. Now let’s talk about why, scientifically, this is so important.
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As a physician, a fascinating topic for me is adrenal fatigue. We are living in a world of overdrive, where life is go-go-go, take a second to breathe, go-go-go again. ALSO — being on our phones 24/7 does not help the situation! Our cortisol levels are at an all-time high. Cortisol is the primary hormone in the body that is released in response to stress. Stress can be good or bad, but even constant connectedness leaves our bodies in a cellular stress response. When we are constantly connected + with others, physiologically we are in a more “fight or flight” state than a complete relaxed state.
Imagine cavemen, alone in their cave minding their own business — relaxed. Imagine cavemen with their friends, hunting, chatting — “fight or flight” because it was a constant battle amongst each other. Our physiology is not that different from those times; we remain in that state which thus raises our cortisol up, up, + up. There are zillions of ways to lower cortisol, but the way I want to focus on right now with this post is that of being alone. It is crucial to take time [off your phone even], to observe the world around you, get lost in thoughts, take a walk, + relax your mind. This will bring cortisol back to base levels quicker than if you were with people all the time. Then, when you go back around people, you are refreshed, with a lower stress-state.
The problem is people are scared of being alone. I believe it is because of the reasons people have asked me: are you nervous, do you care what people think, do you get lonely? But here is my advice for you: no one cares about that person alone! In fact, most people are envious of someone who has that strength to be alone. It is a powerful feeling of being okay with being alone, + most want that! Of course, it can be lonely at times to be alone, but nothing is permanent. Unless you are going off into the wilderness for life, you will be back with people in no time. Enjoy it!
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MORE ON BEING ALONE
The only time I have ever been nervous being alone was when I travelled to South Africa by myself. ++ I was nervous for good reason! The only time to be nervous about being alone is if you are in an unsafe area, but you do not need to put yourself in those situations! I’m just a crazy one ; ).
Otherwise, there is no need to be nervous. What do you do if you’re not with people? Read, daydream, meditate, observe, + quiet the mind. Grow your own mental capabilities — this is crucial to our well being! Be comfortable with strutting your stuff on your own because being independent is incredible, + being alone is even more fun.
For my extroverts, take all of this advice with a reminder that I am an incredibly extroverted person. When I am with people, I am with them. But if I didn’t have my moments alone, I would never be able to give these people my all, my full-extroverted-ness personality.
Now go out there, be alone, + LOVE IT! Go for a walk alone, go eat alone, go travel alone. + when people ask “why are you alone?” respond however you want. Think in your head: because I need some mental clarity, I don’t want life to go by where I didn’t have a chance to do something because I was waiting for someone [think travel], I needed some me-time, I wanted to meet someone new, etc. I normally respond with “why not?” Go give it a shot-you will love it.
With positive vibes,